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" Americanisms Old and New" : "Ex Oriente Lux" : " 'Twixt Two Worlds." 

V912. I. -A TO BYZ. 




-'" . ...-.., 


V. I 

The author will esteem it a favour to be furnished with examples 
of cant or slang of any kind or nationality, together with quotations, 
especially early ones, illustrating usage, meaning, derivation, etc. 
All communications may be addressed to JOHN S. FARMER, care 
of A. P. WATT, Esq., 2, Paternoster Square, London, E.G. 


E that undertakes to compile a dictionary, 
undertakes that which, if it comprehends 
the full extent of his design, he knows 
himself unable to perform. Yet his 
labours, though deficient, may be useful, 
and with the hope of this inferior praise, he must incite 
his activity, and solace his weariness." So wrote the 
great lexicographer, Dr. Johnson, in the "Advertisement" 
to the fourth edition of his Dictionary of the English 
Language, published in 1773. In another place he had 
already told, in words which have since become classical, 
of the difficulties he had encountered, and of his own 
estimate of the shortcomings of his work as compared 
with the original design. It is in very much the same 
position that I find myself, now that I have completed 
the first instalment of my own task, smaller and less 
important though it be. I am fully conscious of manifold 
imperfections ; yet I hope, and indeed believe, that I 
have, in my presentation of what is generically known as 
" slang," advanced the enquiry in some measure. While 
cordially acknowledging the aid I have derived from the 
labours of my predecessors in the field, I cannot but 
recognise that, again and again, having adopted a new 
mode of treatment, I have found myself forced to " blaze " 
the way into what was practically a term incognita. 

Prefatory Note. 

The difficulties were manifold, and crowded upon one 
at every turn from the very outset. First and foremost 
came the question of deciding whether any given word, 
phrase, or turn of expression could with justice be 
relegated to the limbo of unorthodox speech in short 
to decide, What is Slang ? As a matter of fact, I have 
not yet discovered, nor have I been able to formulate any 
definition which covers the whole of the ground to be 
traversed. As Dr. Murray truly observes, " there is 
absolutely no defining line in any direction : the circle 
of the English language has a well-defined centre, but 
no discernible circumference." Authorities differ between 
themselves, and often with themselves when asked to 
set down in plain scientific terms the marks which 
distinguish the vagrant words of slang from correct and 
orthodox English. Nor is the difficulty removed or 
lessened by an analysis of the genesis, or the applica- 
tion of this vast and motley crowd of heterodox 
words: of a verity the borderland between slang and 
the " Queen's English" is an ill-defined territory, the 
limits of which have never been clearly mapped out. 
It is, therefore, not without hesitation, that I have 
ventured to explore this " Dark Continent " of the World 
of Words. If I cast a ray of light where before was 
darkness, or reduce to some sort of order where much 
was confusion well and good : if, on the other hand, 
my steps at times chance to falter, others will, in such a 
case, be able to profit by my experience as I have by 
that of my predecessors. 

Hence bearing in mind the ill-defined character 
of much of the enquiry my title, " Slang and its 
Analogues," which I think fairly and accurately describes 

Prefatory Note. vii 

the scope and intent of the present work, though it may 
not satisfy those critics who, without examination, seek 
to decry or put aside that which it has cost years of 
labour and research to produce. For the rest, however, 
a conscientious worker may well be content to abide 
the result of careful and honest criticism, whether for 
praise or demerit. 

Great as was the initial difficulty in regard to a dividing 
line between the three great divisions of colloquial English 
dialectical, technical, and slang it was clearly and 
obviously necessary to draw the line somewhere. After 
careful consideration, I adopted, as a standard between 
literary and non-literary English, Annandale's edition of 
Ogilvie's Imperial English Dictionary. With but few 
exceptions, it will be found that no word is here included 
which is there set down as forming part of the orthodox 
inheritance of " the noble English tongue." The next 
great difficulty with which I found myself confronted was 
the determination of the exact meanings of slang words 
and expressions. Frequently I discovered I had to 
deal with a veritable Proteus slang used to-day in one 
sense shades off to-morrow into many modifications. 
This fact I have had to keep steadily in mind. It will 
account, in some instances, for what may, at first sight, 
appear to be an unnecessarily extended list of illustrative 
quotations ; in such cases it will generally be found, 
on examination, that different shades of meaning are 

As regards treatment, I have adopted, though not in 
its entirety, what is commonly known as the " historical 
method," supplementing this by an attempt at the com- 
parative study of slang, i.e., the presentation of un- 

Prefatory Note. 

orthodox English in juxtaposition with the argots of other 
European nations, notably those of the French, German, 
Italian, and Spanish peoples. The historical usage of 
slang is amply illustrated by the quotations appended 
to each example. These comprise in their range the whole 
period of English literature from the earliest down to the 
present time, my plan having been to give the first 
ascertainable use of any given word or phrase, tracing it 
down century by century, winding up with an example 
" down to date." These illustrative quotations, roughly 
speaking, number upwards of 100,000 for the whole work. 
I was fortunate enough shortly after commencing my 
final task of revision to have about 12,000 quotations placed 
at my disposal by Mr. G. L. Apperson, of Wimbledon, 
who for many years has had special knowledge of the 
requirements of such work, having sub- edited certain 
sections of the New English Dictionary. I am glad to be 
able to make special mention of my indebtedness 
in this respect ; as also to Mr. G. A. King, of Croydon, 
an old Wykehamist, for invaluable aid in connection 
with public school words and phrases. 

Copious materials for a comparative study of 
English and foreign slang will be found in the often- 
times lengthy lists of analogous and synonymous 
terms appended to the more important and more 
commonly used examples in the body of the work. 
This branch of my study I shall deal with more 
fully in an article to follow the completion of the vocabu- 
lary proper, and I purpose to enhance the usefulness of 
that portion of the dictionary by a complete alphabetical 
list of all the foreign slang words and phrases herein used, 
with full references to page and column. 

Prefatory Note. 

For the rest, my method will, I think, need little eluci- 
dation. I have endeavoured to make each example, with 
its explanation, derivation, synonyms, and illustrative 
quotations, as far as possible, complete in itself. Over 
and above this, however, the cross-references will be found 
of considerable value for the purpose of comparison, 
and will, I hope, be acceptable. I may also add that, 
wherever possible, I have given a reference indicating 
where synonymous or analogous words may be found. 
The arrangement of these synonyms has been a matter of 
considerable thought ; first, as to the most fitting place for 
inclusion ; and second, so to distribute them throughout 
the dictionary as to present a piece of work evenly balanced, 
and ready of reference. 

There are certain sources of information of which I 
must make special acknowledgment. Among books, first 
and foremost, comes that invaluable store-house, Notes and 
Queries. I have freely drawn for information upon this 
inestimable periodical from its very first issue, invariably 
making a note of my indebtedness, and to whom, in the 
text. The New English Dictionary has also been of service 
in supplying, at times, earlier examples of the. use of a 
slang word or phrase than those of which I was already 
possessed. It is not, however, without a certain amount 
of perhaps pardonable satisfaction that I, working single- 
handed, am often able to give much earlier illustra- 
tions of the slang side and usage of our mother tongue, 
than occurs elsewhere. 

As regards French Argot, Francisque Michel, Loredan 
Larchey, and A. Barrere, respectively, are the chief 
authorities to whom I wish to render due acknowledg- 

Prefatory Note. 

ment ; Ave-Lallemant and Kahle have also been specially 
useful in connection with the German Gannersprdche. The 
dates of quotations have, wherever possible, been finally 
verified by comparison with the comprehensive and useful 
appendix to Dr. Brewer's Reader's Handbook. 

It may not be out of place to give some indication of 
the complete scheme (subject to slight modification) of 
SLANG AND ITS ANALOGUES. The work will comprise : 

I. A dictionary of ancient and modern English 

slang, treated historically, including copious 
lists of English, French, German, and Italian 
synonyms, etc. 

II. A chapter on the comparative study of the 

subject ; this embraces English cant and slang, 
French Argot, German Gannersprdche, Italian 
Fourbesque, Spanish Germania, and Portuguese 

III. A new and exhaustive Bibliography, with copious 

entries of foreign books treating of the subject. 

IV. A list of authorities and references to periodical 

literature, with full titles and dates as mentioned 
throughout the dictionary. 

V. A complete vocabulary of all foreign slang words 

and expressions occurring throughout the body 
of the work, with detailed references to 
example, page, and column. This will form in 
itself a comprehensive dictionary of foreign 

NOTE. A table of abbreviations used in this Volume will be found 
on page 406. 

II linillll lilllllllllllllllllllll IIIII II III IIII III Illlllllllllllllllllll iiiillllllllliiiinillli! - II III nil mil mil ill I [lllllllll :: :.':::"":':!:i;i::" . 

occurs in these 

(vulgar) ["a" 
as in baf] . A 
common vul- 
garism in speak- 
ing for (i) 
" have, " (2) 
"I," (3) "he," 
(4) "at," (5) 
"on," etc. It 

connections for 

more than 300 years ; all were 
used by Shakspeare, as well as by 
Beaumont and Fletcher and other 
writers of the Elizabethan period. 

A1 or A1 COPPER-BOTTOMED, adj.phr. 
(popular). Applied to men or 
things, Ai is synonymous with 
a high degree of praise. ' He 
must be a first -rater,' said 
Sam. 'Ai,' replied Mr. 
Roker. [1837, Pickwick Paper s.'\ 
The derivation of this col- 
loquialism from the symbols 
used in registering ships at 
Lloyd's is pretty well known. 
Letters A. A. (in black and red), 
JE (in black), E, etc. are em- 
ployed to denote various de- 
grees of excellence in the 
hulls of vessels, figures being 

added to show the quality of 
the equipments, such as masts 
and rigging in sailing vessels, or 
boilers and engines in steamers. 
When hull and fittings alike are 
of the best, a vessel is classed 
Ai. Hence, in mercantile circles, 
the expression has become 
popularly current, in a figura- 
tive sense, to signify the highest 
commercial credit ; and, by a 
process of expansion, excellence 
of quality in general, i.e., first- 
class ; first - rate. The form 
varies, being rendered by FIRST- 
BOTTOMED ; and, in the U.S.A., 


earliest reference given in the 
New English Dictionary for the col- 
loquially figurative usage bears 
date 1836, but it was employed 
at least two years previously in 
a quarter which seems definitely 
to fix, not only the period of its 
adoption, but the process of 
transition as well. Ai was a 
perfectly natural colloquialism 
in the hands of Captain Marry at, 
at once an experienced seaman 
and a practised writer. 




1833. MARRYAT, Peter Simple, ch. 
xliii. ' Broached molasses, cask No. i, 


1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 229. ' Here's 
spoons for six, and tea and sugar for one. 
Sold again ! and this time to my old 
sweetheart of all. She's a prime girl, 
she is; she is A NUMBER ONE, COPPER- 
BOTTOMED, and can sail as well in her 
stays as out of her stays ; she is full 
rigged, and carries a lot of canvas. But 
1 must not tell tales out of school.' 

1882. Punch, Ixxxii. 181, i. IN VINO 
(ET CETERA) VERITAS. 'What's up, old 
man ? You seem to be out of sorts ! ' 
' Snappe's been here. I begged him 
to give me his candid opinion about 
my pictures. He did!' 'Ah! I see! 
It differs from yours ! Now when I 
want a fellow's candid opinion about my 
pictures, I ask him to dinner, give him 
a first-rate bottle of claret, a cup of 
Ai coffee, a glass of old cognac, and the 
best cigar money can buy, and then I 
show him my pictures, and I always 
find that his candid opinion coincides 
with my own.' 

ENG. SYNONYMS. All brandy; 
the pure quill ; about East (Ame- 
rican) ; about right ; at par ; 
the cheese ; all there ; bang 
up ; a corker ; up to Dick ; 
downy ; fizzing ; that's Bible ; 
splash up ; up to the nines ; up 
to the knocker; down to the 
ground ; slap up, etc. 

cadabrant, adj. (from Abracad- 
abra) ; aux petits oignons (liter- 
ally ' like small onions.' Cf., 
English, 'like a thousand of 
bricks,' and 'like winkey'); 
bath (adj. : also bate. In Argot 
and Slang the origin of the term 
is thus stated : Towards 1848 
some Bath notepaper of supe- 
rior quality was hawked about 
in the streets of Paris, and 
sold at a low price. Thus 
'papier bath' became synony- 
mous of (sic) excellent paper. 
In a short time the qualifying 
term alont, remained and 
received a general application) ; 

arriver bon premier (literally ' to 
arrive a good first'). 

(Fenian). Sometimes erro- 
neously No. i. In the copy 
of Hotten's Slang Dictionary, 
annotated by H. J. Byron, the 
playwright, now in the British 
Museum, this is given as ' a 
title for the commander of 900 

AARON, subs, (thieves'). 'The 
AARON,' says H. O. Manton in 
Slangiana, ' is the chief or captain 
of a gang or school of thieves. 
The title is invariably preceded 
by the prefix The par excellence 
the first similar to the eldest 
representatives of certain Irish 
and Scotch clans or families, 
such as The O'Connor Don, The 
Chisholm, etc. As AARON was 
the first high priest .... it is 
probably of Jewish origin in its 
slang application. An AARON 
was an old cant term for one of 
a class of cadgers, who com- 
bined begging with acting as 
guide to the summits of moun- 
tains, chiefly to evade the laws 
against vagabondage, no doubt 
a play, in its slang sense, on its 
Hebrew equivalent, lofty.' In 
this last connection a closer re- 
lationship probably exists than 
that just stated, inasmuch as 
Gesenius thinks that the Hebrew 
AARON is a derivative of Huron, 
a mountaineer. It is to be 
remarked that leaders of the 
church were also called AARONS. 

A. B., or A. B. S. (commercial). 
An able-bodied seaman. See 

1875. Chambers' Journal, No. 627. 
Of all the European sailors by far the 
most reliable were five stalwart A.B'S, 



ABADDON, subs. (old). A thief 
who, to general nefarious prac- 
tices, adds perfidy to his compa- 
nions. Rarely, and perhaps only 
locally used. It is obviously 
derived from ABADDON, the de- 
stroyer or angel of the bottom- 
less pit (Revelation ix., n). 

(thieves'). i. A nearly obsolete 
term to designate primarily a 
pickpocket, whose chief quarry 
is pocket handkerchiefs or 
bandannas; and, hence 

2. A petty thief, i.e., one whose 
depredations are regarded by 
the fraternity as not worth the 
risk incurred. Brewer writes 
down the word as a contraction 
of 'a bandanna lad.' With 
this derivation is connected the 
story of an incident said to have 
been a prime factor in the 
movement resulting in the 
passing of Sir Samuel Romilly's 
Act for the abolition of capital 
punishment for highway rob- 
beries under 403. value. Briefly 
told, it is that a footpad robbed 
a woman of a bandanna shawl, 
valued at gd., an offence for 
which a notorious highwayman 
was hanged. Subsequently, 
however, he was proved to have 
been innocent, whereupon the 
fact of her mistaken accusation 
having done an innocent man 
to death so preyed upon the 
woman's mind that she became 
raving mad. The incidents 
touched the public conscience, 
an agitation ensued, and the 
law was amended as stated. 

ABANDONED HABITS, stibs. phr. 
(popular) . The riding costumes 
of the ladies of the demi-monde 
in Hyde Park (Slangiana). The 
punning and sufficiently obvious 

innuendo involved in the appel- 
lation hardly calls for further 
comment. See ANONYMA. 

(old). The keeper of a 
house of ill-fame ; also a 
procuress. It has been sug- 
gested that the origin of this 
term for the mistress of a 
brothel, as also that of ABBOT 
(q.v.), the name given to the 
male associate of the mis- 
tress, may be traced to the 
alleged illicit amours of Abe- 
lard and Heloise. In this 
connection it is significant 
that, according to Francisque 
Michel's Etudes Comparees sur 
V Argot, a common woman was, 
in the old French cant, said to 
come from Vabbaye des s'o/re 
a tous. The keeper of such 
an establishment was called 
I'abbesse, and her associate le 
sacristain. The analogy was 
carried still further, by the 
inmates being termed ' nuns ' 
and 'sisters of charity." This 
depravation in the meaning of 
words, usually applied only to 
the holders of sacred offices, 
may possibly, without undue 
license, be regarded as resulting 
from the mockery born of the de- 
gradation, in the popular mind, 
of the priestly office ; or, it may 
naturally flow from the loose way 
in which the title of ' abbot ' 
was often applied to the 
holders of non-monastic offices. 
Thus, the first step toward dege- 
neration may have occurred in 
applying the term to the princi- 
pal of a body of clergy, as an 
episcopal rector ; or, as amongst 
the Genoese, to a chief magis- 
trate. The second stage was 
reached when, in the middle 
ages, ' abbot ' was applied ironi- 

Abbey Lubber. 


cally to the heads of various 
guilds and associations, and to 
the leaders in popular assem- 
blages and disorderly festivities, 
e.g., the Abbot of Bell-ringers, 
the Abbot of Misrule, the Abbot 
of Unreason. Henceforward de- 
terioration was both easy and 
rapid to the point when 'abbot' 
and its co-relative ABBESS, 
signified a steward and stewar- 
dess of the STEWS (q.v.). The 
terms are now obsolete on 
both sides of the Channel. In 
England the modern equivalent 
for ABBESS is MOTHER (q.v.}\ and 
in France la maca, mere maca, la 
maquecee, or V institutrice , do 
similar duty. 

1782. WOLCOT [P. Pindar] , Odes to 
the Pope, Ode ii. in Works (Dublin, 1795), 
vol. II., p. 492. 

So an old ABBESS, for the rattling rakes, 
A tempting dish of human nature makes, 
And dresses up a luscious maid. 

1840. W. KIDD, London and all Its 
Dangers. The infernal wretches who 
traffic in the souls and bodies of their 
helpless victims are called LADY 

ABBEY LUBBER, siibs. pJir. (old). 


1. An old term of con- 
tempt for an able - bodied 
idler who grew sleek and fat 
upon the charity of religious 
houses; also sometimes, especi- 
ally subsequent to the Refor- 
mation, applied to monks. In 
this sense it has long fallen 
into disuse. 

1680. DRYDEN, Spanish Friar, III. 3. 
This is no huge, overgrown ABBEY 


2. The term survives, how- 
ever, and is still occasionally 
used by seafaring men, although 
' lubber ' is now more common 
amongst our Jack tars for a 
lazy, thriftless individual. If 
a sailor wishes to express 

the utmost scorn for lazi- 
ness and meanness, he finds a 
very much more forcible ex- 
pression in a 'dirty dog and 
no sailor.' See LUBBERS' HOLE. 

ABBOT, subs. (old). The hus- 
band or 'fancy man' of an 
ABBESS (q.v.) ; now called a 
PONCE (q.v.) In the old French 
argot these gentry were dignified 
by the title of sacristain. They 
were occasionally spoken of as 


ON THE CROSS, in which case 
the establishments over which 
they mounted guard were not 
so much brothels as PANEL 
CRIBS (q.v.), where prostitution 
served mainly as a cloak for 

ABBOTT-S PRIORY, subs. phr. (popu- 
lar). The King's Bench Prison 
was formerly so-called ; perhaps 
from Chief Justice Abbott. 

ABBREVIATIONS. These occasion- 
ally partake most clearly of the 
nature of slang. As illustrative 
examples may be mentioned : 
K.D.Gs., the King's, now the 
First Dragoon Guards. O.K., 
all right ; 'orl krect.' B.T.I., a 
big thing on ice. Q.T., gener- 
ally 'on the strict Q.T. 1 , i.e., 
quiet. T.T., too thin. Cri., 
the Criterion ( restaurant or 
theatre). The Ox., the Oxford 
Music Hall. Tec., detective. 
B.P., British Public. B. and 
S., brandy and soda. P.D.Q., 
pretty d d quick. 

A.B.C.-s (London). i. The Aerated 
Bread Co.'s establishments are, 
familiarly speaking, A . B. C.'s. 

2. (Christ's Hospital). A lie, 
Bread and Cheese on ' going 
home night,' 

A -Bear. 

A bigail. 

As EASY AS A. B. c., adv.phr. 
(popular). Extremely facile ; 
the acme of ease, i.e., from an 
adult's point of view ; chil- 
dren, however, probably view 
the matter in a different light. 
In this, as in much else, distance 
lends enchantment to the scene. 
This colloquialism is by no 
means of modern growth ; 
Shakspeare speaks of answer 
1 coming like A. B. C. book.' 

A- BEAR, v. (provincial and vul- 
gar). To suffer, or to tolerate. 
[From old English abearan, to 
bear or carry] . This term, 
though hoary with age, and 
long of honorable usage (from 
A.D. 885 downward), must now 
be classed with degenerate words , 
or at all events with non-literary 
English. Though still largely 
dialectical, its use amongst peo- 
ple of education is reckoned 
vulgar. It is now invariably 
employed in conjunction with 
' cannot ' 'I can't ABEAR 


ABERDEEN CUTLET, subs. phr. (fami- 
liar). A dried haddock. C/., 

ABIDE, v. (vulgar). To tolerate ; to 
put up with. This, like ABEAR 
(q.v.), has ancient sanction for 
its use. In the senses of to 
endure, suffer, bear, or sustain 
meanings which are now obso- 
lete the word can be traced 
back as far as A.D. 1205 ; the 
modern vulgar usage, rarely 
employed affirmatively, dates 
from about A.D. 1526, when Tin- 
dale translated John viii. 43, by 

' He cannot ABYDE the hearyng 
of my words. ' ABIDE, therefore, 
may be classed amongst those 
words which, once respectable, 
have now fallen into disrepute. 
Shakspeare puts into the mouth 
of one of his characters a phrase 
which, to those acquainted with 
the speech of the uneducated 
classes, has a very modern 
appearance, ' I cannot ABIDE the 
smell of hot meat. 1 

ABIGAIL, subs, (popular). A lady's 
maid. There can be little 
doubt that the familiar use of 
this name for the genus 
' waiting woman,' was prima- 
rily an allusion to the title of 
handmaid assumed by ABIGAIL, 
the wife of Nabal, in speaking to 
the servants of King David. 
' Behold, let thine handmaid be 
a servant to wash the feet of the 
servants of my Lord ' (i Sam. 
xxv. 41) . Other names recorded 
in the Bible, and for the matter 
of that elsewhere, have been 
used much in the same way as 
marking distinctive character. 
ABIGAIL has thus become asso- 
ciated with the idea of a female 
servant ; so, too, a giant is 
spoken of as a Goliath ; a patient 
man as a Job ; a shrew as a 
Jezebel; a coward as a Bob Acres, 
cum multis aliis. In Beaumont 
and Fletcher's comedy of The 
Scornful Lady (1616), one of 
the characters, Mrs. Youngton, 
a ' waiting gentlewoman,' is 
named ABIGAIL. This play, 
having a long run of public 
favour, Pepys in his Diary 
[1666], iv. 195, specially men- 
tions it, possibly led to the 
popularization of the nickname. 
At all events it subsequently 
appeared on more than one 
occasion in the same connection 

A big ail. 

About East. 

in the plays of the period. 
There is no reason to sup- 
pose that the term was derived 
from the notorious ABIGAIL 
Hill, better known as Mrs. 
Masham, a poor relative of 
the Duchess of Marlborough, 
by whom she was introduced to 
a subordinate place about the 
person of Queen Anne ; nor will 
the contention that it was first 
established in public usage by 
Dean Swift, who employed it in 
a letter to Stella, hold good ; al- 
though likely enough he caused 
it to take deeper root than 
before. The terms on which he 
was with the Mashams rendered 
him the last person in the world 
likely to have used such a term, 
unless it had been so long in 
familiar use as to be deprived of 
all appearance of personal allu- 
sion to them. 

1663. T. KILLIGREW, Parson's Wed- 
ding, II., vi. in Dodsley, O.P. (1780), xi., 
425. [In this play, a waiting woman is 
termed an ABIGAIL.] 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, book XL, 
ch. ii. The mistress was no sooner in 
bed than the maid prepared to follow 
her example. She began to make many 
apologies to her sister ABIGAIL for leav- 
ing her alone in so horrid a place as 
an inn. 

1858. G. ELIOT, Mr. Gilfil's Love- 
Story, ch. iii. The next morning, Mrs. 
Sharp, then a blooming ABIGAIL of three- 
and-thirty, entered her lady's private 

It has been stated that Old 
English writers used the word 
ABIGAIL to signify a termagant 
woman, and also a female 
bigamist, but there is no evi- 
dence to support these views. It 
may be mentioned that the 
French use the word in the 
popular English sense. A waiting 
woman was also formerly called 
a COMB-BRUSH (q.v.). 

ETS, ABELWACKETS.SZ^S. (nautical). 
[From ABLE (uncertain, per- 
haps alluding to able seaman) 
+ WHACK]. A game of cards 
played by sailors, in which the 
loser receives a whack or blow 
with a knotted handkerchief for 
every game (or point) he loses. 
Smyth, in his Sailor's Word Book 
[1867], says it is very popular 
with horny-fisted salts. It is 
quoted by Grose as far back as 
1785, but Clark Russell, in 
Sailor's Language [1883], refers 
to it as obsolete. 

ABOUND, v. (American). To be 
prominent ; en evidence. 

1873. Evening Standard, 28 Janu- 
ary. When we are told of a professed 
wit more than usually ABOUNDING at an 
evening party, there is no temptation to 
recruit our dictionaries from the English 
manufactured in the United States. 

ABOUT EAST, adv.phr. (American). 
To the frontiersman or pioneer, 
the Eastern or New England 
States are typical of all that he 
cherishes most and loves best. 
The vicissitudes of his rough 
Western life, the toil and hard- 
ships he has undergone while 
battling with nature and build- 
ing up a new habitation far 
from the old homestead, all pre- 
dispose him to turn with long- 
ing eyes and undying, though 
quaintly exaggerated love to the 
East the home of his fathers. 
A famous Yankee character 
(Major Jack Downing) makes 
use of the expression that he 
would ' Go EAST of sunrise any 
day to see sich a place.' Every- 
body and everything connected 
with the East, i.e., his native 
land, is commendable. To his 
mind they cannot be surpassed 
hence the things he would 

About Right. 

A hove Par. 

hold up to admiration he says 
are ABOUT EAST, i.e., ' about 
right.' Indeed, it is surprising 
what a strong hold this idea has 
upon the minds of men. Many 
a familiar phrase recalls the old 
times and the old folks to me- 
mory, which, in this respect, is 
evergreen. They talk of GOING 
DOWN EAST, that is, to New 
England, while the DOWN- 
EASTER is neither more nor less 
than the pure and veritable 
Yankee. FARMER'S American- 
isms, Old and New. 

ABOUT RIGHT, adv. phr. (vulgar). 
Correctly ; to the purpose ; pro- 
perly general satisfaction on 
the part of the speaker concern- 
ing a given thing or action. 
' Arry sometimes varies the locu- 
tion by TER RIGHTS (q.v.). 

1850. F. E. SMEDLEY, Frank Fair- 
leigh, ch. iv. ' YOU'RE ABOUT RIGHT, 
there, Mr. Lawless ; you're down to 
every move, I see, as usual.' 

1883. HAWLEY SMART, Hard Lines, 
ch. xxii. ' I am afraid your schemes 
went a little awry yesterday,' observed 
Mrs. Daventry . . . 'YOU'RE ABOUT 
RIGHT ; they did.' 

ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT, adv. phr. 
(American). i. An expression 
covering a wide field assent, 
general satisfaction, approval, 
etc. Synonymous with ABOUT 

2. Used also for ' how ' ; 
1 how much,' etc. a measure of 
quantity or quality. 

1876 (?). JAMES GREENWOOD, New 
'Roughs' Guide' in 'Odd People in Odd 
Places.' Got no home, no wittles, and 
never a 'a'penny to buy none with. That's 
ABOUT THE SIZE of how destitoot we are, 

1881. Punch, May 14, p. 228. SIR 

TURE. " Look 'ere, Clarke. 'Appy 
thought! I'll make this little room the 

libery, you know; 'ave a lot o' books. 
Mind you order me some.' 'Yes, Sir 
Gorgius. What sort of books shall I 
order ? ' ' Oh, the best, of course, with 
binding and all that to match ! ' ' Yes, 
Sir Gorgius, how many shall I order ? ' 
' Well, let me see, suppose we say a 
couple o' 'undred yards of 'em, hay ? 
That's ABOUT THE SIZE OF IT, I think. 1 

ABOVE BOARD, adv. phr. (common). 
Without disguise or conceal- 
ment ; with an absence of arti- 
fice. Jamieson refers this to 
the language of the gaming 
table, the players when chang- 
ing cards putting their hands 
on, i.e., above the table or 
board to ensure fair dealing. 
It appears, however, even in its 
figurative sense to be a collo- 
quialism of long standing. See 
MURRAY'S New English Dic- 

ABOVE ONE'S BEND, adv. phr. 
(American). See BEND. 

ABOVE PAR, adv. phr. (familiar). 
Used figuratively in a multitude 
of senses, e.g. (i) in reference to 
one's health or spirits, in good 
condition ; (2) applied to a man 
in liquor it signifies a state of 
moderate drunkenness; or, (3) 
used in regard to pecuniary 
matters it is synonymous with 
being ' flush,' having ' the 
needful ' ' best bliss of earth," 
as Duncombe puts it. Derived 
from the technical, commercial 
meaning. Stocks are said to be 
at par when purchasable at 
their ' face ' value ; when at a 
premium they are ABOVE PAR ; 
and when selling at a decline in 
value, i.e., at a discount, they 
are said to be below par ; hence 
the colloquial usage. See ex- 
ample in quotation. Synonyms, 


A bracadabra. 


1880. Punch, June 5, p. 253. FRED 
Awful fellow that Ted at his letters ! he 

writes for the Scanmag, you know ; 
And his style never falls below ' PAR.' 

Not my joke, heard him putting it 

so . 

And the pars in the Scanmag he does 

them are proper, and chock full of 

Only paper I care to grind through, never 

preachy, or gushing, or slow I 

ABRACADABRA, subs, (scientific jar- 
gon). 1. A cabalistic word 

used in incantations. When 
written in a manner similar to 
that shown in accompanying 
diagram, so as to be read in 
different directions, and worn as 
an amulet, it was supposed to 
cure certain ailments. 





A B R A C A D 

A B R A C A 

A B R A C 

A B R A 

A B R 

A B 


Hence (2), any word-charm, 
empty jingle of words, gibberish, 
nonsense, or extravagant idea. 
Littre's derivation from the 
Hebrew ab father, mack spirit, 
and dabar word is regarded by 
many authorities as fanciful ; 
as also is T. A. G. Balfour's 
reference of it to a composition 
of the first letters of the Hebrew 
words signifying ' Father, Son, 
and Holy Spirit.' Other autho- 
rities, though by no means in 
accord, generally agree that a 
Persian origin is the most likely. 
Mr. R. S. Charnock (Notes and 
Queries, 7 S., iii., 504) thinks it 
related to the cabalistic word 
abraxas composed of the Greeek 
letters a, /3, p, a, , a, , making, 

according to the Greek numera- 
tion, the number 365. 

Des auteurs beaucoup plus anciens 
n'ont vu dans le mot abraxas, qu'une 
reunion des lettres numeriques, qui etant 
additionees donnent le nombre 365, ou 
1'annee entiere, en sorte qu' abraxas 
serait le symbole du soleil ou de sa 
revolution annuelle presumee. Depping. 

In Persian, according to Gro- 
tenford, abraxas means the ' Sun 
God ' ; if this be so its use 
as a talisman is easily under- 
stood. Yet another derivation 
is from a corrupt form of 
the Hebrew dabar is verbu, 
and abraca is benedixit, i.e., ver- 
bum benedixit. If, however, 
the word is Semetic at all, and 
nothing more than an unintel- 
ligible jargon of letters, it could 
possibly be better explained 
than by Littre, by Abra(i) seda 
bra(i), 'Out, bad spirit, out!" 
as a magic formula for driving 
out the demon which causes the 
fever. It is interesting in this con- 
nection to compare Mark i. 25, 
ix. 25, and parallel passages. 

1687. AUBREY'S Remaines of Gentil- 
isme, p. 124 (1881). [In this work ABRACA- 
DABRA is given arranged as a spell.] 

1711. Spectator, No. 221. They [the 
signatures] are, perhaps, little amulets 
or charms to preserve the paper against 
the fascination and malice of evil eyes ; 
for which reason I would not have my 
reader surprised, if hereafter he sees any 
of my papers marked with a Q, a Z, a 
Y, an &c., or with the word ABRACADABRA. 

1722. DEFOE, Journal of the Plague 
(ed. Brayley, 1835, p. 56). ' This mys- 
terious word, which, written in the 
form of a triangle or a pyramid, was 
regarded as a talisman or charm of 
wonderful power, is said to have been 
the name of a Syrian god, whose aid 
was considered to be invoked by the 
wearers of the amulet. It originated in 
the superstitions of a very remote period, 
and was recommended as an antidote 
by Serenus Sammonicus, a Roman phy- 
sician, who lived in the early part of 
the third century, in the reigns of the 
emperors Severus and Caracalla. Its 
efficacy was reputed to be most powerful 

A braham. 


in agues and other disorders of a febrile 
kind, and particularly against the fever 
called by the physicians Hemitritaeus.' 

1879. Literary World, 5 Dec., p. 358, 
col. 2 [M!. The new ABRACADABRA of 
science, ' organic evolution.' 

ABRAHAM, stlbs. (popular). A 
clothier's shop of the lowest 
description, where slop-made 
garments of shoddy cloth form 
the staple commodity together 
with second-hand clothes or 
HAND-ME-DOWNS (q.v.}. Chiefly 
localized in the East End of 
London, where these establish- 
ments are kept by Jews ; hence 
probably the derivation of the 
term; adj. (old cant). See 

BEGGAR, subs, (old cant). 
It is difficult now-a-days to 
trace with certainty the origin 
of these terms, notwithstanding 
a wealth of matter on the 
subject. Nares describes the 
fraternity as a set of vagabonds 
who wandered about the country 
soon after the dissolution of the 
religious houses : the provision 
for the poor ifi those places 
being cut off and no other sub- 
stituted. Thus, primarily, an 
ABRAHAM-MAN was a vagabond, 
a beggar tattered, unwashed; 
unkempt and a thief withal. 
' What an Abram ! ' an excla- 
mation for a naked fellow. 
Harman, the earliest autho- 
rity, refers to them as feign- 
ing madness (see quot.), and 
as having been resident in 
Bethlehem Hospital. Wards in 
the ancient Bedlam bore dis- 
tinctive names of some saint or 
patriarch; that named after 
Abraham was devoted to a class 

of mendicant lunatics, who on 
certain days were permitted to 
go out begging. It is an open 
question whether the ward gave 
the name to the men or vice 
versa. In either case, however, 
the use of the term ' Abraham ' 
is in this connection possibly an 
allusion to the beggar Lazarus 
in Luke xvii. These mendi- 
cants bore a badge, but many 
assumed the distinction with- 
out right, and begged feigning 
lunacy. Hence, it may be, the 
more popular signification of 
the term 

2. An impostor, wandering 
about the country pretending to 
be mad, begging in the streets, 
and laying hands upon all 
trifles ' considered ' or ' uncon- 
sidered' in his way. Dekker, 
in his English Villanies [1632] , 
has many curious particulars of 
the habits of this class of 
impostors who were said to 
SHAM ABRAHAM. Shakspeare 
also, in King Lear [1605] , Act ii., 
Scene 3, describes and puts into 
the mouth of one of these 
characters the following words : 

. . . the basest and most poorest shape, 
That ever penury in contempt of man, 
Brought near to beast: my face I'll grime 

with filth ; 

Blanket my loins ; elf all my hair in knots ; 
And with presented nakedness outface 
The winds, and persecutions of the sky. 
The country gives me proof and pre- 
Of BEDLAM BEGGARS, who, with roaring 

Strike in their numb'd and mortified bare 

Pins, wooden pricks, nails, sprigs of 

rosemary ; 
And with this horrible object, from low 

Poor pelting villages, sheep-cotes and 

Sometime with lunatic bans, sometime 

with prayers, 
Enforce their charity. 

Abraham Grains. 


A braham's Willing. 

The term is now obsolete, 
though Scott used it as late as 
1824, and from the Quarterly 
Review (1813), IX., p. 167, it 
seems to have then been in 
pretty general use. The mod- 
ern prototype is called a tramp 
or cadger. To SHAM ABRAHAM, 
i.e., to feign sickness or distress 
is, however, still in vogue. The 
French equivalent is Fagotin (m) . 
See also ABRAHAM SHAM and 

1573. HARMAN, Caveat (1814), p. 29. 
These ABRAHAM MEN be those that fayn 
themselves to have bene mad, and have 
bene kept either in Bethlehem, or in 
some other pryson a good time, and not 
one amongst twenty that ever came in 
prison for any such cause. 

1625. MASSINGER, New Way to Pay 
Old Debts, II., i. Are they padders or 
ABRAM-MEN that are your consorts ? 

1724. E. COLES, Eng. Diet, ABRAM 
COVE, naked or poor man. 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 
xxi. ' There is a trick for you to find 
an ABRAM-MAN, and save sixpence out 
when he begs of you as a disbanded 

ABRAHAM GRAINS, subs, (thieves'). 
A publican who brews his own 

ABRAHAM NEW LAND, subs, (popular). 
A bank note. Abraham New- 
land was chief cashier to the 
Bank of England, from 1778 to 

1829. SIR W. SCOTT, letter to 
Croker in Croker Papers, vol. II., p. 36. 
A bank note seems to terrify everybody 
out of their wits, and they will rather 
give up their constitution to Hunt and 
Cobbett than part with an ABRAHAM 
NEWLAND to preserve it. 

ABRAHAM-S BALSAM, subs. (old). 
Death by hanging. See To DIE 

ABRAHAM SHAM, subs, (old cant). 
i. Feigned sickness or distress. 
See ABRAHAM-MAN. Usually 

spoken of as to SHAM ABRAHAM, 
or ABRAM (q-v.}. From this 
primary meaning, joined with an 
allusion to the name of a once 
well-known chief cashier of the 
Bank of England, was derived 
the secondary meaning of the 
forge bank-notes. Abraham 
Newland was in office in the 
years 1778-1807, and a popular 
song of the period ran as follows : 

'I have heard people say that SHAM 
ABRAHAM you may, 

But you mustn't SHAM ABRAHAM New- 

Further point is added to this 
stanza by the fact that bank 
notes were themselves termed 
that forgery was felony by 

1759. GOLDSMITH, Citizen of the 
World, cxix. " He swore that I under- 
stood my business perfectly well, but 
that I SHAMMED ABRAHAM merely to be 

1849. C. BRONTE, Shirley, ch. 
xxxiii. Matthew, sceptic and scoffer, 
had already failed to subscribe a 
prompt belief in that pain about the 
heart; he had muttered some words, 
amongst which the phrase SHAMMING 
ABRAHAM had been very distinctly 

ABRAHAM SUIT, subs. phr. (thieves'). 
False pretences ; fraudulent 
representations to excite sym- 
pathy. The term is applied to 
any trick or artifice calculated 
to extract money from the 
charitable, whether by means 
of begging letter, a faked-up 
appearance, or other contri- 
vance. Those who resort to 
such practices are said TO GO 

ABRAHAM'S WILLING, subs. phy. 
(rhyming slang), A shilling. 

Abraham Work. 


A broad, 

ABRAHAM WORK, subs.phr. (popular). 
Shams of all kinds are so 
designated, from a bubble 
company down to the most 
trumpery 'city pen'orth.' 

&S. (old and also modern 
sea slang). i. The same as 
ABRAHAM-MAN (q.v.). 2. A ma- 
lingerer ; one who gets put on 
the sick list to shirk work. 
Adj. (old cant). i. Mad. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 36 (H. Club's Repr., 1874). ABRAM 
niadde. He maunds ABRAM, he begs as 
a madde man. 

2. Naked, 'she's all ABRAM.' 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, part 
I., ch. v., p. 47 (1874). ABRAM, naked. 

ED (old). Derivation uncertain, 
but supposed to be a corrup- 
tion of 'auburn.' In this con- 
nection it may be remarked that 
it is to be found in Coriolanus, 
Act II., scene 3; but where the 
original reads A bram the folio has 
' auburn." To SHAM ABRAM, verb. 
(old). Also see ABRAHAM SHAM. 

The original signification of 
this word, to feign sickness, led 
t cits use to describe pretence of 
any kind; this is specially the 
case amongst sailors, workmen, 
tc., who describe malingering 
as doing Abram, the defaulter 
also being called by the same 


subs. (American). Vulgarisms 
for ' aborigines.' 

ABRIDGMENTS f subs, (nonce word). 

Knee breeches. This term 
for small clothes appears in 
Bulwer Lytton's comedy, Money. 

1840. BULWER LYTTON, Money, 
iv. 4. Frantz (producing a pair of small 

clothes, which Toke examines). Your 
master is von beggar, etc. Toke. I 
accept the ABRIDGEMENTS, but you've 
forgotten to line the pockets. 

ABROAD, adv. (old). i. Con- 
fused ; staggered ; perplexed. 
More generally retained in this 
sense in America than in 

2. (popular). Generally ALL 
ABROAD ; i.e., wide of the mark ; 
wrong ; uncertain in one's esti- 
mate ; or, 'all at sea.' In this 
figurative sense the expression 
is much older than is popularly 
supposed. See BEDOOZLED. 

1821. The Fancy, vol. I., p. 255. In 
the fourth round he came in ALL ABROAD, 
and got a doubler in the bread-basket, 
which spoiled him for the remainder of 
the fight. 

1840. DICKENS, Old Curiosity Shop, 
ch. Ixi. ' My friend ! ' repeated Kit, 
' You're ALL ABROAD, seemingly,' re- 
turned the other man. 'There's his 
letter, take hold.' 

1846. THACKERAY, V. Fair, ch. v. 
At the twelfth round the latter champion 
was ALL ABROAD, as the saying is, and 
had lost all presence of mind, and power 
of attack or defence. 

3. To be transported. The 
French have a similar circum- 
lution, allev en traverse, and the 
Italian Fourbesque has andar a 

4. (Win. Coll.) A boy re- 
turning to school work after 
being ill is said to COME 
ABROAD. When on the sick 
list he is CONTINENT (q.v.} i.e., 
continens cameram, vel lectum, 
keeping his room or bed. When 
recovered he is allowed to go 
forts, out of doors, or more collo- 
quially, ABROAD. Adams, in 
Wykehamica, remarks that the 
use of this term shows the 
antiquity of the school, dating 
as it does from the times of 
the ' patrium sermonem fugito, 

A broaded. 



Latinum exerceto, of the Tabula 


a less complimentary term im- 
plying that a ' man ' has been 
1 shuffling ' ; it is specially ap- 
plied to those who having ' gone 
continent' in the morning are 
sent back to school by the 
doctor at 9 a.m. 

ABROADED (society). See quota- 
tion, and compare with ABROAD. 

1876. H. O. MANTON, Slangiana, 
p. ii (See Bibliography). Fashionable 
slang for a noble defaulter on the Con- 
tinent (sic.) to avoid creditors. It is the 
police official slang for convicts sent to a 
colonial or penal settlement, but it is 
applied by thieves to transportation 
either at home or in the Colonies. 

ABS (Win. Coll.) i. An abbre- 
viation of ' absent ' placed 
against the name of a boy when 
absent from the school. 

2. v. tr., to takeaway. For- 
merly, circa, 1840, TO ABS a tolly 
(candle), meant to put it out ; 
now it would mean to take it 
away whether lighted or un- 
lighted, the modern ' notion ' 
for putting it out being to 
' dump ' it. 

3. v.n. To get away ; gener- 
ally used in the imperative, as, 
' ABS !' ' Oh ! do ABS ! ' Some- 
times, however, a fellow is said 
TO ABS quickly, and MESS THINGS 
(q.v.) are ABSED (trans.), or put 

ABSED is to have it taken 
away by a violent blow in the 

ABSCOTCHALATER, subs, (thieves'). 
Quoted by H. O. Manton in 
Slangiana as ' one who is hiding 
away from the police.' Cf., 

ABSENCE, subs. (Eton). Names- 
calling, which takes place at 3 
p.m. and 6 p.m on half-holidays ; 
and at 11.30 a.m., 3 p.m., and 6 
p.m. on whole holidays ; at 6 
p.m. only in summer half. 

(thieves'). Said of one who 
has broken prison; or (popu- 
lar) absconded. 

ABSIT, subs. (Cambridge). Set 

1886. DICKENS'S Dictionary of the 
University of Cambridge, p. 3. Every 
undergraduate wishing to leave Cam- 
bridge for a whole day, not including a 
night, must obtain an ' ABSIT ' from his 
tutor. Permission to go away for a 
longer period, either at the end of the 
term or in the middle, is called an 
1 exeat,' and no undergraduate should go 
down without obtaining his ' exeat. 1 

ABSKIZE, ABSCHIZE, v. (American). 
To depart ; go away. Said 
to be of Western origin, and 
to have been in use about 
1883. Of rare and probably 
local usage. It has been de- 
rived from the Dutch afscheyden ; 
Ger. abscheiden of similar mean- 
ing ; a not unlikely origin, bear- 
ing in mind the large Dutch 
and German element in the 


v. (American). To run away; 
to decamp; with the more or 
less forcible idea of absconding 
in disgrace. A factitious word, 
of American origin and jocular 
use, simulating a Latin form, 
perhaps from Latin ab and 
squat, i.e., to settle on land, 
especially public or new lands, 
without any title or right 
whether of purchase or per- 
mission, though in Australia 
the term is employed in a more 



restricted sense for a sub-lessee 
of the government at a nominal 
rent. It was first used by Mr. 
Hackett, as Nimrod Wildfire, a 
Kentucky character, in a play 
called 'The Kentuckian,' by 
Bernard, produced in 1833. It 
is now less often heard than 
formerly, having been replaced 
in some degree by the word 
SKEDADDLE (q.v.). For syno- 
nyms, see AMPUTATE ONE'S 



3 S., ch. xiv. 'What's the use of legs 
but to ABSQUOTILATE with . . . when 
traps are sot for you.' 

1879. Punch, Jan. 18, p. 23, col. i. 
Hunter, ' How do you do, Mr. Brown ? ' 
Let me present you to the Duchess of 
Stilton ! Your Grace, permit me to pre- 
sent to you Mr. Brown, the distinguished 
scholar!' Her Grace (affably). 'Charmed 
to make your acquaintance er Mr. 
Brown ! ' Mr. Brown (with effusion). 
' Your Grace is really too kind. This is 
the ninth time I've enjoyed the distinc- 
tion of being presented to your Grace 
within the last twelve months ; but it's a 
distinction I value so highly, that with- 
out trespassing too much on your Grace's 
indulgence, I hope I may be occasionally 
permitted to enjoy it again. [Bows, and 


1884. Daily Telegraph, August 20, p. 
6, col. i. Yet who knows but that some 
day an accident may happen to the 
Aberdeenshire works of art . . . the 
sense of the cartoons be totally subverted 
in Rabelaisian phrase, 'absquashed 


ACADEMICIAN, subs. (old). The in- 
mate of a brothel. 

ACADEMY, subs. (old). i. A dis- 
orderly house ; a brothel ; a 
bagnio. Grose remarks that 
these establishments were also 
old brothels have of late years 
rapidly disappeared, their places 
being taken by what are known 
as BED HOUSES (q.v.}. These vary 

in character as regards style, 
equipment, and cost, but of 
whatever grade, rooms may be 
had for longer or shorter 
periods as required. The 
French call them maisons de so- 
ciete ; maisons de passe ; foutoirs, 
and gros numeros, the last from 
the fact, that these semi-private 
brothels bear a number of large 
dimensions over the entrance. 
The French have also a some- 
what analogous term for the 
mistress of an academic in Vins- 
titutrice, the teacher. In the 


inmates are young prostitutes, 
the next stage in whose down- 
ward career is taken on the 

2. According to the N.Y. Slang 
Dictionary, a penitentiary or 
prison for minor offences. 

3. A thieves' school; also a 
band of thieves. There are 
establishments of similar cha- 
racter bearing more distinctive 
names, e.g. : 

4. BUZZING AcADEMY(thieves'). 
A school for thieves, chiefly 
boys. Fagan, the old Jew in Oliver 
Twist, will occur to mind, as 
also the devices by which he 
taught his gang to pick pockets 
and pilfer adroitly. 

grants'). A house of call or com- 
mon lodging house, frequented 
by the fraternity ; a cadger's 
dossing ken. The term is also 
applied to any house where 
application for food or money is 
likely to be successful. At the 
regular ' beggar's house ' 
establishments which abound 
more or less in every town 
information can be obtained so 
that the district can be thorough- 
ly and systematically 'worked.' 

A cause. 


these places false characters 
are drawn up, to say nothing 
of the concoction of schemes 
of robbery. 

(thieves'). The hulks or prison 
ships were formerly so-called. 
When the regulations as regards 
transportation were relaxed, con- 
victs condemned to hard labour 
were sent on board these vessels. 


ACAUSE, conj. (vulgar). A cor- 
ruption of ' because.' 

(popular). A brothel. Also 
frequently applied to what in 
police court phraseology are 
known as disorderly houses, i.e., 
houses where rooms can be 
hired for shorter or longer 
periods as desired. See BED 




verb. phr. (old nautical). To join 
in a filibustering or buccaneer- 
ing expedition ; to turn pirate. 
Ogilvie says, probably from the 
parties sharing, as in a commer- 
cial venture. 

1812. SCOTT, Letter to a Friend. I 
hope it is no new thing for gentlemen of 
fortune who are GOING ON THE ACCOUNT 
to change a captain now and then. 

To ACCOUNT FOR (sporting). 
To kill; literally to be answer- 
able for bringing down one's 
share of the shooting to make 
away with. 

1846-48. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, 
ch. xx. The persecuted animals [rats] 
bolted above ground : the terrier 
ACCOUNTED FOR one, the keeper for 

1858. Letter from Lahore, 28 Sep- 
tember, in Times, 19 November. In the 
course of one week they were hunted up 
and ACCOUNTED FOR ; and you know that 
in Punjab phraseology ACCOUNTING FOR 
means the extreme fate due to mu- 
tineers. [M.] 

COUNTS, verb. phr. (old cant). 
To vomit. Still common ; quoted 
by Grose [1785] . The expres- 
sion sometimes runs, amongst 
seafaring men, TO AUDIT ONE'S 

ENG. SYNONYMS. To shoot 
the cat ; to cat. 

miettes (lit. to sow or scatter 
crumbs) ; piquer le renard (lit. 
to goad the fox. Cf. ' to shoot 
the cat.' The old French 
phrase was cliasser or escorcher le 
renard, either because, says Cot- 
grave, ' in spueing one makes a 
noise like a fox that barks, or 
because the flaying of so un- 
savory an animal will make any 
man spue ' ; renverser (lit. to 
overturn, to upset) ; faire resti- 
tution (lit. to make amends ; to 
restore) ; revoir la carte (lit. to 
look at the bill of fare again). 

(Thieves'). To turn Queen's 

ACCUMULATIVES, subs. (Ame'rican). 
These journalistic sparring 
matches are essentially a 
'Yankee notion.' In England 
they are called CODICILS (q.v.), 
under which see an amusing 
example which will illustrate 
their character, as also the 
length to which American edi- 
tors sometimes go in heaping 
Ossa upon Pelion. 


A corn. 

ACCUMULATOR, subs, (racing). A 
bettor, who when successful 
with one horse, carries forward 
the stakes to another event. 

ACE OF SPADES, subs. phr. (old). 
A widow. Though obsolete 
in England, it is quoted by the 
New York Slang Dictionary (1881) 
as still current in America. 

ACK, intj. (Christ's Hospital). 
No ! refusal of a request, e.g., 
' Lend me your book.' 'ACK!' 


RUFF (American), subs. A fresh- 
water thief; a ruffian who in 
conjunction with watermen robs 
and sometimes murders on the 
water. [AcK (unknown deriva- 
tion, unless a corrupted form of 
ark, a boat; or wherry) + MAN, 
etc.] Quoted by Grose [1785], 
and also by Clark Russell, in 
Sailor's Language [1883]. 

(American). To make an ad- 
mission of failure ; to admit 
being outwitted. The various 
stories professing to account for 
derivation are discussed in de- 
tail in Americanisms, Old and New : 
the most circumstantial and cer- 
tainly the best authenticated, 
runs as follows : In 1828, the 
Hon. Andrew Stewart was in 
Congress discussing the principle 
of ' Protection,' and said in the 
course of his remarks, that Ohio, 
Indiana, and Kentucky sent 
their haystacks, cornfields, and 
fodder to New York and Phila- 
delphia for sale. The Hon. 
Charles A. Wickliffe, from 
Kentucky, jumped up and said, 
1 Why that is absurd ; Mr. 
Speaker, I call the gentleman 
to order. He is stating an 

absurdity. We never send 
haystacks or cornfields to 
New York or Philadelphia. 1 
' Well, what do you send ? ' 
1 Why, horses, mules, cattle, 
hogs.' ' Well, what makes 
your horses, mules, cattle, 
hogs? You feed a hundred 
dollars' worth of hay to a 
horse, you just animate and 
get upon the top of your hay- 
stack and ride off to market. 
How is it with your cattle ? 
You make one of them carry 
fifty dollars' worth of hay and 
grass to the Eastern market. 
Mr. Wickliffe, you send a hog 
worth ten dollars to an Eastern 
market ; how much corn does 
it take at thirty-three cents per 
bushel to fatten it ? ' ' Why, 
thirty bushels ! ' ' Then you 
put that thirty bushels of 
corn into the shape of a hog, 
and make it walk off to the 
Eastern market.' Mr. Wickliffe 
jumped up and said : ' Mr. 
CORN. [De Vere's Americanisms 
[1872] p. 47.] Latterly the ex- 
pression has been used in Eng- 
land in the sense of simply to 
make an admission. 

The Season Ticket, No. 9. 'He had a 
beard that wouldn't ACKNOWLEDGE THE 
CORN to no man's.' 

1865. BACON, Handbook of America, 
confess a charge or imputation. 

1883. G. A. SALA, Living London, 
p. 97. Mr. Porter ACKNOWLEDGES THE 
CORN as regards his fourteen days' 
imprisonment, and is forgiven by his 
loving consort. 

ACORN, subs. phr. (old). The 
gallows. Euphemisms for hang- 
ing, the ' tree ' itself, and the 
victim of the law's majesty 
were, at the time when the 



A cres . 

death penalty was a common 
punishment, both many and 
ACORN, is obviously an allusion 
to the timber of which the TRIPLE 
TREE (q.v.) was constructed. The 
widows of those who had 
suffered the extreme penalty of 
the law were termed HEMPEN 
WIDOWS (q.v.) ; the children of 
such, or those likely to meet 
with death by hanging, HEMP- 
SEED (q.v.) ; and HEMPEN FEVER 
(q.v.) represented the dread 
malady itself. 

1760-61. SMOLLETT, SirL. Greaves,ch. 
viii. I believe as how 'tis no horse, but a 
devil incarnate ; and yet I've been worse 
mounted, that I have I'd like to have 


ACORN (i.e., he had nearly met with the 
fate of Absalom). 

1827. LYTTON, Pelham, ch. Ixxxii. 
4 The cove .... is as pretty a 
Tyburn blossom as ever was brought up 

Shcppard [1889], p. 8. Tom Sheppard 
was always a close file, and would never 
tell whom he married. Of this I'm cer- 
tain, however, she was much too good 
for him. ... As to this little fellow. . . 
. . he shall never mount A HORSE FOALED 
BY AN ACORN, if I can help it. 

QUAINTANCE, verb. phr. (com- 
mon). To make acquaintance. 
Probably from ' bowing and 
scraping ' to a person, in order 
to curry favor. 

1698. FARQUHAR, Love and a Bottle 
[ed. 1711], p. 5, Lucinda. Pray good 
Caesar, keep off your paws ; no SCRAPING 
ACQUAINTANCE for Heaven's sake. 

This phrase has a classical 
origin, an account of which 
from the pen of Dr. Doran, 
F.S.A., appears in the Gentle- 
man's Magazine [N.S. xxxix. 230] 
in an article on ' The Masters 
of the Roman World during the 
Happiest Years of the Human 

There is an anecdote connected 
with Hadrian and the custom of bathing, 
from which is derived the proverbial 
The Emperor, entering a bath, saw an 
old soldier scraping himself with a tile. 
He recognised the man as a former 
comrade his memory on such points 
never failed him and, pitying his con- 
dition that he had nothing better than a 
tile for a flesh-brush, he ordered the 
veteran to be presented with a consider- 
able sum of money, and a costly set of 
bathing garments Thereupon all the 
old soldiers of the Imperial Army be- 
came as anxious to claim fellowship 
with the Emperor as the Kirkpatricks of 
Great Britain and Ireland are proudly 
eager to establish kinship with the 
Empress of the French. As Hadrian 
entered the bath the day after that on 
which he had rewarded his former com- 
rade, he observed dozens of old soldiers 
scraping themselves with tiles. He 
understood the intent, but wittily evaded 
it. ' Scrape one another, gentlemen,' 
said he, ' you will not SCRAPE ACQUAINT- 

ACQUISITIVE, subs. (American). 
Plunder ; booty ; pickings. A 
noun formed from the adjective. 

ACREOCRACY, subs, (common). 
The landed interest. Possibly 
of American coinage [of simu- 
lated Greek formation, from 
English ACRE + Greek Kpareu, 
to hold sway or to govern] . 
Compare with democracy, mobo- 
cracy, aristocracy, etc. 

1878. Hallberger's Illustrated Maga- 
zine, p. 622. The introduction of a 
plutocracy among the aristocracy and 
the ACREOCRACY though it has tended 
somewhat to vulgarize our social insti- 
tutions, etc. 

A c R E s , subs . (theatrical) A coward . 
From Bob ACRES, in Sheridan's 
Rivals [1775] ; here the charac- 
ter part is of a blusterer, one who 
talks big, but when put to the 
push, to use his own words, 
' his courage always oozed out of 
his finger ends.' Cf., Abigail for 
a waiting maid ; Samson for a 

Across Lots. 

A dual. 

strong man ; Job for a monu- 
ment of patience, and others. 

LOTS, verb. phr. To proceed by 
the shortest route ; similarly to 
do anything in the most expedi- 
tious manner. The phrase had 
its rise in the natural tendency 
of settlers, in thinly-populated 
districts, to shorten the distance 
from point to point by leaving 
the road and striking across 
vacant lots. Brigham Young 
familiarized its idiomatic use 
in the now notoriously his- 
toric saying attributed to that 
' Saint,' ' We'll send them 
(the Gentiles) to hell across 

1848. LOWELL, Biglow Papers. 
Past noontime they went trampin' round 
An' nary thing to pop at found, 
Till, fairly tired o' their spree, 
They leaned their guns agin a tree, 
An' jest ez they wuz settin' down 
To take their noonin', Joe looked roun' 
And see (ACROST LOTS in a pond 
That warn't mor'n twenty rod beyond), 
A goose that on the water sot 
Ez ef awaitin' to be shot. 

1854. J. C. NEAL, Charcoal Sketch's, 
! P- 35 [t a grumbler] : ' You would 
cut ACROSS THE LOT, like a streak of 
lightning, if you had a chance.' 

1887. Scribner's Magazine. ' I 
didn't see Crossby goby, did you?' 'He'd 
have had to foot it by the path CROSS- 
LOTS, replied Ezra, gravely, from the 

ACTEON, subs. (old). A cuckold; 
from the horns planted on the 
head of Acteon by Diana. 

(old theatrical) . Performing ; 
mumming ; acting. Dun- 

ACTIVE CITIZEN, subs, (popular). 
A louse. For synonyms, see 

ACT or PARLIAMENT, subs. (old). 
A military term for small beer, 
five pints of which, by an Act 
of Parliament, a landlord was 
formerly obliged to give gratis to 
each soldier billetted upon him. 
For synonyms, see COLD BLOOD. 

ACTUAL.THEACTUAL,stt6s. (popular). 
Money, when spoken of collec- 
tively. The fact of the existence 
of innumerable synonyms for 
the ' modern staff of life ' goes 
far to bear out the latter-day 
contention that it is not the 
' evil ' itself [' money is the root 
of all evil ' Old Saw] but the 
lack of it that is to be deplored. 
The central idea enshrined in 
many of these terms will well 
repay comparative study, a vein 
of subtle, and sometimes grim 
humor and pathos running 
through not a few of them 
This applies equally to English 
slang, and to the French, 
Italian, Spanish, and Portu- 
guese argots. Compare for ex- 
ample the English ' feathers ' 
with the Spanish amigos (friends) , 
the Italian agresto (sour grapes), 
and the French dufoin (hay), or 
de I'os (bone), and obviously 
many a new side-light upon 
national habits and modes of 
thought may be obtained there- 
from. The English and French, 
the two nations whose slang vo- 
cabularies are by far the most 
copious extant, have respectively 
upwards of 130 and 50 synony- 
mous terms for money. The 
generic names are as follows : 
ENG. SYNONYMS. Ballast ; 
beans; blunt (i.e., specie, not 
soft, or rags, i.e., bank-notes) ; 
brads ; brass ; bustle ; coal ; cop- 
pers (copper money, or mixed 
pence) ; chink ; chinkers ; chips ; 
corks ; dibs ; dimmock ; dinarly ; 

A dual. 



dirt ; dooteroomus (or doot) ; 
dumps; dust; dye stuffs; feathers; 
family plate (silver) ; dollars ; 
gent (silver, from argent] ; gilt ; 
haddock (a purse of money) ; 
hard stuff (or hard) ; horse nails ; 
huckster ; John ; John Davis ; 
leaver; lour (the oldest cant 
term for money) ; mopusses ; 
muck; needful; nobbings (money 
collected in a hat by street-per- 
formers) ; ochre (gold) ; oof ; oof- 
tish ; pewter ; palm oil ; pieces ; 
posh; queen's pictures; quids; 
rags (bank-notes) ; ready ; ready 
gilt; ready John; redge (gold); 
rhino ; rowdy ; shadscales (or 
scales) ; shot ; shekels ; sinews of 
war ; shiners (sovereigns) ; shin 
plasters (or plasters) ; skin (a 
purse of money); Spanish; spon- 
dulics ; stamps ; stiff (cheques, or 
bills of acceptance); stuff; stum- 
py; tin (silver) ; tow ; wad ; wedge 
(silver); wherewith; and yellow- 
boys (sovereigns). In the iyth 
century money was often called 
1 shells ' is this the origin of 
1 to shell out ' ? and ' Oil of 
Angels' (q.v.). 

FRENCH ARGOT. De Vartiche 
(thieves' : retirer de Vartiche, is to 
pick the pockets of a drunkard) ; 
du morningue; dufoin (lit. hay) ; du 
pldtre (thieves' : lit. plaster) ; du 
poussier (thieves' : lit. coal-dust ; 
Cf., English 'coal' and 'dust'); 
des soldats (thieves' : Falstaff, in 
Merry Wives of Windsor, ii., 2, 
says ' money is a good soldier ') ; 
de la mornifle (this thieves' 
term for money, whether good 
or counterfeit, originally signi- 
fied false money only ; there is 
a grim suggestiveness between 
the orthodox meaning of the 
word, 'a slap on the face,' and 
its slang signification) ; de la 
sauvette (also a basket used by rag- 
pickers and collectors of street 

refuse) ; de Vhuile (lit. oil) ; du 
beurre (pop. : lit. butter) ; de la 
braise (pop.: ma braise is a term 
of endearment among the Lyon- 
nais, and is equivalent to mon 
tresor, my treasure) ; du bath 
(thieves' : the tip-top ; the excel- 
lent. From a superior kind of 
Bath note paper, which, in 1848, 
was hawked about the streets of 
Paris, and sold at a low price. 
Thus papier bath became synony- 
mous with excellent paper. In 
a short time the qualifying term 
alone remained, and received a 
general application. Argot and 
Slang) ; du graissage (pop.: lit. 
grease, Cf., 1 palm oil,' and ' greas- 
ing the palm' in English slang); de 
la thune (thieves' : in old French 
cant the Roi de la Thune was 
the king of the beggars, and the 
old prison of Bicetre, where free 
board and lodging was provided 
for many of the fraternity, was 
called La Thune. It is easy to 
see why the name of a place, 
where beggars congregated in 
considerable numbers and re- 
ceived relief, should pass into 
use to signify pecuniary alms) ; 
de la miche de prof on de (pop. and 
thieves': this exactly corresponds 
to the English ' loaver ') ; de 
I'oignon pcse (pop. : lit. heavy 
onion. Cf., Fourbesque argume) ; 
du sable (pop. : lit. sand) ; des 
pimpions (thieves': Qy., from 
pimpant, fine, spruce, smart) ; de 
I'os (familiar : lit. bone); du nerf 
(lit. sinew. Cf., English 'sinews 
of war ') ; des pepettes (pop. : 
(pepette, a coin of the value of 
fifty centimes) ; des achetoires 
(pop. : from acheter, to buy) ; de 
la galette (pop. : lit. sea bis- 
cuit) ; des picaillons (pop. : pro- 
bably a corruption of picaron, 
a Spanish coin) ; de ce qui se 
poiisse (pop. : that which pushes 

A dual. 


itself forward. Cf., English pro- 
verb, ' It's money makes the 
mare to go ') ; de quoi (pop. : the 
wherewithal. Cf., English 'the 
needful,' the ' ready ') ; de I'oignon 
(pop. : lit. onion. Fourbesque 
has also argiime, lit. in Italian, an 
onion) ; de I'oseille (pop. : lit. 
sorrel) ; de la douille (thieves' 
and pop. : from a kind of large 
fig much esteemed in Paris) ; 
des jaunets (lit. buttercups. Cf., 
English ' yellow-boys ') ; des 
sous (lit. pence) ; de la graisse 
(pop. and thieves' : lit. ' grease.' 
Cf., palm oil) ; de laffare (a 
thieves' term, probably from 
the argotic verb affurer, to cheat, 
steal, or deceive) ; du metal (lit. 
metal) ; du zinc (lit. zinc) ; du 
pl-ze (from the Italian pezzo, a 
piece ; Spanish peso, a silver coin, 
weighing an ounce) ; du pedzale ; 
des noyaux (popular) ; des son- 
nettes plombes (plomb = lead) ; 
des sonnettes (lit. bells. Cf., Eng- 
lish ' chinkers ') ; du quantum 
(from the Latin) ; du gras (lit. 
fat) ; de I'atout (lit. trumps in 
cards) ; de Vhuile de main (lit. 
hand oil, the English ' palm 
grease ') ; des patards (obsolete 
copper coins, value Jd. ; now 
applied particularly to a two- 
sous piece, and to money gener- 
ally) ; de la vaisselle de poche (lit. 
pocket plate : vaisselle = gold and 
silver plate) ; du carme (from the 
game of Trictrac }; de la pccune 
(lit. cash) ; desronds (lit. circles; 
from the shape of coins) ; de la 
bille (from billon] ; du " sine 
qua non" (from the Latin; 
meaning obvious) ; du sit nomen 
(from the Latin) ; quibus (an 
abbreviation of quibus fiunt 
omnia) . 

(lit. sour grapes) ; albume (lit. 
white of egg); argume (lit. onions); 

asta, asti (from lta\.asta, a staff) ; 
contramaglia (silver money) ; 
brunotti (lit. brownish) ; penne 
(lit. feathers) ; smilzi (from Ital. 
smilzi = menu) ; squame (lit. 
chips or scales). 

(lit. friends) ; florin (here can be 
traced the Spanish connection 
with the Netherlands) ; sangre 
(lit. blood). 



AD. ADVER. subs, (printers'). 
An abbreviated form of ' adver- 

1854. DICKENS, Household Words, 
xiii., 9. The really interesting ADS are 
in the body of the paper. 

1888. New York Times, Ap. 6. 
[The country editor's wife ] . . . reads 

the ADS with the editor, 
Just to find what each has paid. 
' But the column AD of the jeweller, 

So he says, ' and the harness, and human 


Must be taken out in trade ! ' 
She wears the corsets he gets for ADS, 

And rattles his sewing machine ; 
She uses the butter, and cups, and 

The country subscriber so faithfully 

With a cheerfulness seldom seen. 

ADAM, subs. (old). A sergeant or 
bailiff; a master man or fore- 
man. Now used by thieves in 
the sense of an accomplice. Ex- 
plained by commentators as a 
reference to the fact that the 
buff worn by a bailiff resem- 
bled the native buff worn by 
our first parent, or from his 
keeping the garden. 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, Comedy of Errors 

iv., 3. AntS What Adam dost 

thou mean ? Dro. S. Not that Adam 
that kept the Paradise, but that ADAM that 
keeps the prison : he that goes into the 
calf-skin that was killed for the prodigal. 

1848. Sinks of London Laid Open, p. 
96. ADAM, a henchman, an accomplice. 

Adam's Ale. 


ADAM'S ALE, or sometimes simply 
ADAM, and in Scotland ADAM'S 
WINE. A colloquialism of long 
standing for water, humorously 
suggesting that anything stronger 
was unknown to our first parents. 
Duncombe wittily adds a com- 
ment that our first father's drink 
is best with brandy. This also 
would appear to be the view 
taken in most of the French and 
German equivalents. 

ENG. SYNONYMS. Fish broth; 
aqua pompaginis. 

FRENCH. Anisette de barbillon 
(a popular term) ; essence 
de parapluie (popular: lit. es- 
sence of umbrella) ; V Adam's 
ale (a literal translation of the 
English term) ; hmonade (popu- 
lar : a caustic comment surely 
upon the virtues of lemonade) ; 
lance (popular and thieves' : this 
term also does duty for ' rain ' ; 
properly written Vance, derived 
from the Spanish Germania 
ansia, itself an abbreviation of 
angustia, an allusion to the em- 
ployment of water as a means of 
torture) ; shop or ratafia de 
grenouilles (popular : lit. syrup 
of frogs) ; sirop de I'aigutire 
(popular : lit. pitcher syrup) ; 
sirop de barometre (popular, 
barometer syrup). 

Gdnsewein (lit. goose- wine). 

(the remarks on French lance 
quoted above, apply equally 

1643. PRYNNE, Sov. Power of Par/., 
II., 32. They have been shut up in 
prisons and dungeons . . allowed onely 
a poore pittance of ADAM'S ALE, and 
scarce a penny bread a day to support 
their lives. [M.] 

1786-9. WOLCOT [P. PindarJ, Lou- 
siad, c. ii., line 453. 
Old ADAM'S beverage flows with pride, 

From wide-mouth'd pitchers, in a plen- 
teous tide. 

1884. Daily Telegraph, April i, p. 5, 
col. 2. The spectral banquet graced 
now only by ADAM'S ALE, or the sick- 
room toast and water. 

1886. JOHN COLEMAN, Elfie, pt. I., 
ch. ii. For my part, I stuck to ADAM'S 
ALE, which Elfie brought from the spring. 

ADAM TILER, subs, (old slang). A 
pickpocket's associate ; one who 
receives stolen goods, and then 
runs off with them. [From ADAM, 
an accomplice + TILER, a watch- 
man. C/., Masonic term.] For 
synonyms, see FENCE. 

ADDED TO THE LIST (racing). An 
abbreviation of ' added to the 
list of geldings in training. 1 
Among French thieves, dcsatiller 
is the term employed to signify 
castration ; or, where the opera- 
tion is performed upon a man, 
abelardiser, i.e., to mutilate a 
man, as Chanoine Fulbert mu- 
tilated Abelard, the lover of his 
daughter or niece, Heloise. 

ADDITION, subs. (old). A term for 

various toilet requisites, used by 

women ; such as paint, rouge, 

powder, etc. 

1704. CENTLIVRE, Platonick Love, Act 

iii., Scene i. Milliner. Be pleased 

to put on the ADDITION madam. Mrs. 

Dowdy. What does she mean now ? 

to pull my skin off, mehap, next. 

Ha, Peeper, are these your London 

fashions ? Peeper. No, no, ADDITION 

is only paint, madam. 

phr. (American). A Philadel- 
phia expression, which, for a 
time, had a vogue as a catch 
phrase. It is properly ren- 
M. Tweed, or as he is more fami- 
liarly known ' Boss ' Tweed, is 
generally credited with this ex- 
pression. Being asked what in 

Addle Cove. 

Admiral of the Blue. 

his view was the proper quali- 
fication for a member of a ring 
or trust, in which all play into 
each other's hands for mutual 
advantages, he replied MULTI- 

ADDLE COVE, subs, (common). A 
foolish man ; an easy dupe ; 
literally, a RANK SUCKER (q.v.), 
and equivalent to addle-head, 
addle-pate, addle-plot, all of 
which are common dictionary 
words. Why Barrere and 
Hotten have followed the 
lead of Grose in classing these 
words as slang is hardly clear. 
Dialectical they may have been, 
but all English was similarly 
placed prior to the i5th cen- 
tury, and the first reference 
given by Murray, bears the date 
of A.D. 1250. 

ADEPT, subs, (thieves'). An expert 
amongst the light-fingered gen- 
try. It is quite an open 
question whether ADEPT, even 
in a thief's sense, can fairly be 
classed as slang, the meaning 
being obviously identical with 
that commonly attached to the 

ADJECTIVE JERKER, subs. phr. (liter- 
ary). A term of derision 
applied, like INK-SLINGER (q.v.}, 
to those who write for the press. 
The special allusion in the 
present case is doubtless to the 
want of discrimination which 
young writers, and reporters on 
low-class papers, often exhibit 
in the use of a plethora of ad- 
jectives to qualify a simple 
statement of fact. 

1888. St. Louis Globe Democrat, 
April 29. Genevieve spent four hours 
last night in constructing a three-line 

letter, which she sent to an ADJECTIVE 
JERKER on a society weekly, and in 
which she said she would spend the 
summer months in the Rocky Moun- 

ADJUTANT'S GIG, subs. phr. (mili- 
tary) .The barrack roller. Men 
under punishment are generally 
put to the task of drawing this 

verb phr. (nautical). A practice 
otherwise known as ' SUCKING 
THE MONKEY.' Explained in 
Peter Simple as having originally 
been used amongst sailors for 
drinking rum out of cocoa nuts 
from which the milk had been 
extracted and replaced by 
spirits, an evasion of the regu- 
lation prohibiting the purchase 
of ardent liquors when on shore 
in the tropics. The Germans 
have an analogous expression 
Den a/en saugen, to 'suck the mon- 
key,' with the same signification. 
Nowadays it is applied to 
drinking on the sly from a cask 
by inserting a straw through a 
gimlet hole, and to drinking 

1887. BARHAM, Ingoldsby Legends 
(the Black Mousquetaire). 
What the vulgar call SUCKING THE 


Has much less effect on a man when he's 

ADMIRAL OF THE BLUE, subs. phr. 
(old). A publican or tapster; 
from the colour of his apron ; 
now obsolete. Cf., ADMIRAL OF 


1731. Poor Robin [Pseudonym of 
Robert Herrick] Almanac. 
As soon as customers begin to stir, 


' Coming, sir ! ' 
Or if grown fat, the mate his place 

supplies ; 
And says, 'tis not my master's time to 


A dmiral of Narrow Seas. 22 


Of all our trades, the tapster is the best, 
He has more men at work than all the 

subs. phr. (nautical). A man 
who, under drink, vomits into 
the lap of his neighbour or 

ADMIRAL OF THE RED, subs. phr. 
(popular). A wine-bibber; one 
whose face by its redness bears 
evidence of a fondness for the 
bottle. Formerly the highest 
rank of naval officers was 
divided into three grades or 
classes denominated from the 
colours hoisted by them, 
Admirals of the Red, White, 
or Blue squadron. Now there 
are four grades ; Admiral of 
the Fleet, Admiral, Vice- 
admiral, and Rear-admiral. 
The French call the bottle or 
copper-nose possessed by AD- 
MIRALS OF THE RED betterave 
(lit. a beetroot) ; also un piton 
passe a I'encaustique ; and un 
piffard. Cf., ADMIRAL OF THE 

(familiar). Quoted as ' a white- 
faced person ; a coward ; a 
woman in a faint.' Rarely 
heard, and at best but an 
extremely weak imitation of 
kindred phrases, to wit, AD- 

BLUE, subs. phr. (familiar). 
Beadles ; hall-porters ; and 
such-like functionaries when 
sporting their gorgeous liveries 
of office. 

ADONIZE, verb. (rare). [French 
tdoniscr ; from ADONIS + IZE] . 

To make beautiful or attrac- 
tive ; to adorn oneself with a 
view of attracting admiration; 
said only of men. 

1818. S. E. FERRIER, Marriage, 
ch. ix. ' Venus and the Graces, by 
Jove ! ' exclaimed Sir Sampson, bow- 
ing with an air of gallantry ; ' and 
now I must go and ADONIZE a little 
myself.' The company then separated 
to perform the important offices of the 

1850. F. E. SMEDLEY, Frank Fair- 
leigh, ch. xl. ' He positively refused 
to face the ladies till he had changed 
his shooting costume, so I left him up 
at the hall to ADONIZE.' 

ADSUM, verb. (Charterhouse). 
The response made in answer- 
ing to names-calling. 

1855. THACKERAY, The Newcomes, 
p. 774. ' At the usual evening hour the 
chapel bell began to toll, and Thomas 
Newcome's hands outside the bed feebly 
beat time. And just as the last bell 
struck, a peculiar sweet smile shone 
over his face and he lifted up his head 
a little, and quickly said, 'ADSUM,' and 
fell back. It was the word we used at 
school when names were called ; and lo, 
he whose heart was as that of a little 
child had answered to his name, and 
stood in the presence of the Master.' 

ADULLAMITES, subs. (parliamentary). 
A nickname, in the first in- 
stance, for a party of seceding 
Liberals, namely, Messrs. Hors- 
man, Lowe, Earl Grosvenor, 
Lord Elcho, etc., who in 1866 
voted with the Tories, when 
Earl Russell and Mr. Gladstone 
introduced a measure for the 
extension of the Franchise, 
In the debate on the 3Oth 
March John Bright said they 
had agreed to draw back into 
a political cave of ADULLAM. 
The reference is to those who, 
with King David, took refuge in 
the cave of ADULLAM (i Sam. 
xxii., i). The political party in 
question were also known col- 
lectively as 'The Cave.' 

Advance Backward. 2 3 


1878-80. JUSTIN MCCARTHY, History 
of Our Own Times, p. 142. The little third 
party were at once christened the 
ADULLAMITES, and the name still sur- 
vives and is likely long to survive its old 
political history. Ibid, p. 143. The 
wild cheers of the Conservatives and 
the ADULLAMITES showed on which 

'sword sat laurel victory.' Ibid,p. 153. 
[Lord Derby] had at once invited the 

leading members of the ADULLAMITE 
party to accept places in his Admin- 

The primary usage has been 
extended as explained in the 
following quotations. 

1870. Notes and Queries, March 5, 
p. 241. The Scriptural ' CAVE OF 
ADULLAM ' has become an adopted 
byword for a small clique who unite to 
obstruct the party with which they 
usually associate. 

1884. New York Times, July 19. 
The Conservative party then presented 
a tolerably solid front against the exten- 
sion of the franchise, and received 
besides a large reinforcement of 
ADULLAMITES from the Liberal side. 

ADVANCE BACKWARD, verb. (Ameri- 
can). A rather odd way of 
expressing retrogression. 

1888. Chicago Inter-Ocean, Jan. 23. 
The advice given to his company by a 
raw Yankee captain TO ADVANCE BACK- 
WARD, seems paralleled in the Chicago 
Tribune of the i8th inst. 

ADVANTAGE (Californian). See 

>EGER, subs. (Univ.). Lat. sick. 
Same as AEGROTAT (q.v.). 

1870. Chambers' Journal, June 18, 
p. 395. Dick laughed. ' I'll get the 
receipt from him. I often want a good 
thing for an ,EGER.' 

1888. H. SMART, in Temple Bar, 
February, p. 213. ' Instead of applying 
for leave to my tutor, I had resorted to 
the old device of pricking ^EGER.' 

JCGROTAT, subs. (Univ.). [L. 
he is sick, 3rd pers. sing. pres. 
ind. of cegrotare, to be sick from 
agrotus, sick, from ager, sick] . In 
English universities a medical 

certificate given to a student, 
showing that he has been pre- 
vented by sickness from attend- 
ing to his duties, or his exami- 
nation ; also used for the degree 
taken by those so excused. Also 
called ;EGER (q.v.). 

1794. Gent. Mag., p. 1085. They 
[at Cambridge] sported an ^GROTAT, and 
they sported a new coat ! 

1864. BABBAGE, Passages from the 
Life of a Philosopher, 37. I sent my 
servant to the apothecary for a thing 
called an .CGROTAT, which I understood 
. . . meant a certificate that I was 

universities leave taken, com- 
monly in December, in order to 
get time to read for one's degree. 

AFFAIR OF HONOUR subs. (old). 
Killing an innocent man in a 
duel. This euphemism was 
largely in vogue during the 
Regency days. 

AFFIDAVIT Mcn.sub.phr. (old slang), 
or, as they also used to be 
False witnesses who attended 
Westminster Hall and other 
Courts of Justice, ready to 
swear anything for hire ; they 
were distinguished by having 
straws stuck in the heels of 
their shoes. See STRAW BAIL 
under BAIL. 

AFFINITY, subs. (American). A cant 
term in frequent use amongst so- 
called free-lovers. One's AFFINI- 
TY is supposed to be a person of 
the opposite sex, for whom an 
attachment so strong is felt that 
even if already married, as more 
often than not is the case, the 
husband will abandon his legi- 
timate wife, and vice versa, in 
favour of the new attraction, or 
AFFINITY as he or she is called. 
The argument is generally only 


2 4 Afternoon Farmer. 

an excuse for unbridled sexual 
license ; indeed, it is inconceiv- 
able that it could be otherwise, 
except in a society of seraphs 
and archangels. 

AFFLICKE, subs. (old). See quota- 

1610. ROWLAND'S Martin, Mark-all, 
p. 38 (H. Chub's Repr., 1874). AFFLICKE, 
a theefe. 

AFFLICTIONS, subs, (drapers'). 
Mourning goods, half-mourning 
being designated MITIGATED AF- 
FLICTIONS (q.v.). 

AFFYGRAPHY, SM&S. (common). 'It 
fits to an AFFYGRAPHY,' i.e., to 
a nicety to a T ; also of time - 
' in an AFFYGRAPHY.' 

AFLOAT, adv. (common). On the 
move ; en evidence. This term is 
of nautical origin. 

WELL AFLOAT, is to be well- 
primed with liquor ; in short, to 
be in one of the many degrees of 

1888. Missouri Republican, Jan. 25. 
When sober on the bench Judge Noonan 
is a model of all the virtues. On Friday 
night, however, in company with Dr. 
Munford, of Kansas City, ex-Speaker 
Wood, Mr. Charles Mead, and several 
other gentlemen, his honor once more 
drank until, as an onlooker put it, his 


A-FLY, adv. (vulgar). See FLY. 

AFTERCLAP, subs. (American). An 
attempt to unjustly extort more 
in a bargain or agreement than 
at first settled upon. Derived 
from AFTER -f CLAP, a blow or 
shock.] Current in England 
since the beginning of the fif- 
teenth century, signifying an 
unexpected subsequent event ; 
something happening after an 

affair is supposed to be at an 

MAN. Generally read to mean 
a tippler ; one given to long 
potations after the mid-day 
meal, formerly the most sub- 
stantial taken during the 
twenty-four hours. Smythe 
Palmer, however, appears to 
throw a different gloss upon 
the term, for he says [N. 
and Q., 5 S., viii., 112], 'AFTER- 
NOONES MEN equivalent to 


custom, formerly, to dine in 
the halls of our Inns of Court 
about noon, and those who 
returned after dinner to work 
must have been much devoted 
to business, or obliged to work 
at unusual hours by an excess 
of it." See quot. from Earle. 

1614. OVERBURY, A wife, etc. (1638), 
196, Make him an AFTERNOONES MAN. 

1621. BURTON, Anat. Mel. Democr. 
to Reader (1657), 44. Bervaldus will 
have drunkards, AFTERNOON MEN, and 
such as more than ordinarily delight in 
drink, to be mad. 

1628. EARLE, Microcosmography (A 
Player). Your Innes of Court men were 
undone but for him, hee is their chiefe 
guest and employment, and the sole 
businesse that makes them AFTER- 

1830. Dublin Sketch Book. The 
good Baronet (Sir Francis Burdett) was 
not only a foxhunter, but a celebrated 
AFTER-DINNER MAN It must have been 
a good bout indeed in which he was 

AFTER FOUR, subs. phr. (Eton). 
From 3 to 6 p.m. on half- 
holidays ; 4 to 5 on whole 

AFTERNOON FA RMER.SK&S. />/*'. (popu- 
lar). This expression for one 
who procrastinates, or who 
misses an opportunity is, in 

After Twelve. 25 


reality, a provincialism. It is 
quoted in more than one of the 
English Dialect Society's Glos- 
saries as a very common phrase 
for one who is always behind, 
i.e., late in preparing his land, in 
sowing or harvesting his crops. 
It is only slang when used 
figuratively apart from agricul- 
tural pursuits. 

AFTER TWELVE, subs. phr. (Eton). 
From noon till 2 p.m. 

1861. WHVTE MELVILLE, Good for 
Nothing, p. 39. I used to visit him regu- 
larly in the dear old college from the 


COLLAR, verb. phr. (popular). 
To battle or cope with diffi- 
culties ; ' to kick against the 
pricks ' ; ' to pull against the 
tide. 1 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 114. 'It is 
always thought to be a bad plan to let 
journeymen Cheap Johns get into debt 
with their employers. It is bad in two 
ways, for if they owe their governors a 
few pounds, they are WORKING an uphill 
game, or AGAINST COLLAR, and that don't 
suit their book, and it destroys the inde- 

Eendence which is, and always should 
e, between the master and the man.' 

(popular). Against the fibres of 
the wood ; hence, in opposition 
to the wish ; unwillingly ; un- 
pleasantly ; reluctantly. ' It 


it, but I knew I must,' is a com- 
mon expression. 

1673. DRYDEN, Amboyna, Act i. 
Seizing their factories I like well enough, 
it has some savour in't ; but for this 
whoresome cutting of throats, it goes a 


1693. DRYDEN, Juvenal, i., 202, 
Though much AGAINST THE GRAIN forc'd 
to retire. 

1709. STEELE, Tatter, No. 2. Nothing 
in nature is so ungrateful as story-telling 

AGAINST THE GRAIN, therefore take it as 
the author has given it you. 

1868. WILKIE COLLINS, The Moon- 
stone, ist Period., ch. xi. As I had pro- 
mised for them, the other servants fol- 
lowed my lead, sorely AGAINST THE 
GRAIN, of course, but all taking the view 
that I took. 

1884. W. C. RUSSELL, Jack's Court- 
ship, ch. xxiii. It went AGAINST MY GRAIN 
to leave the poor chap alone. 

AGAZE, adv. (American thieves'). 
Astonished ; open-eyed. 

AGGERAWATOR, subs, (common) ; 
also H AGGERAWATOR, both forms 
being corruptions of ' aggra- 
vator.' A lock of hair brought 
down from the forehead, well 
greased, and then twisted in 
spiral form upon the temple, 
either toward the ear, or con- 
versely toward the outer corner 
of the eye. This style of dress- 
ing the hair was formerly much 
affected by costermongers, male 
and female, and other street 
folk, but the ' ornament ' is now 
rarely seen. It appears to be 
known among certain classes 
in France, especially prostitutes' 

ENG. SYNONYMS. Kiss-curls ; 
cobbler's knots ; cow - licks ; 
Newgate knockers (from a 
supposed resemblance to the 
knocker on the prisoner's door at 
Newgate) ; number sixes ; bell- 
ropes (being wherewith to draw 
the belles) ; bow-catchers ; spit- 
curls ; lovelocks, etc. 

FRENCH ARGOT. Des guiches ; 
des rouflaquettes (from being 
sported by prostitutes' bullies), 
des accroche-cceurs (lit. heart- 

1836. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, p. 
132. His hair carefully twisted into the 
outer corner of each eye, till it formed a 
variety of that description of semi-curls, 
usually known as ' AGGERAWATORS.' 


26 Agony Column. 

From the following they 
would appear at one time to have 
formed part of the personal 
adornment of women in Aus- 

1859. FRANK FOWLER, Southern Lights 
and Shadows, p. 38. The ladies are 
addicted to ... straw-coloured gloves, 
and strained hair, embellished with two 
or three c's AGGRAVATORS they call 
them running over the temple. 

AGILITY, subs. (low). A woman 
who, in mounting a stile, or, 
when being swung, exposes 
more of her person than is 
usually counted decent, is said 
to show her AGILITY. The 
story told is an absurdly vulgar 
play upon words. 

phr. (common). Ring the bell ! 

AGITATOR, subs, (common). A bell- 
rope, or knocker. 

AGOG A RE, intj. (American thieves'). 
Be quick! a warning signal 
[from AGOG]. New York Slang 

verbal phr. (popular). To 
intensify a statement or rela- 
tion by exaggerated or blood- 
curdling details. Newspapers 
pile on the agony when ' writing 
up ' murder, divorce, and other 

1857. C. BRONTE, in Mrs. Gaskell's 
Life, ch. xxv. What climax there is does 
not come on till near the conclusion ; 
and even then, I doubt whether the 
regular novel-reader will consider the 
' AGONY PILED sufficiently high ' (as 
the Americans say), or the colours 
dashed on to the canvas with the pro- 
per amount of daring. 

1881. W. BLACK, Beautiful Wretch, 
ch. vi. ' Sooner or later that organ will 
shake the Cathedral to bits ; the vibra- 
tions were fearful. I thought there was 

a great deal too much noise. You lose 
effect when you PILE UP THE AGONY like 

AGONY COLUMN, subs. phr. (popu- 
lar). The second column of the 
Times ; originally so-called from 
the fact of its being devoted 
to advertisements for miss- 
ing friends, and private com- 
munications, many of which are 
of a harrowing character. Most 
London newspapers, for the 
phrase is chiefly local, have 
now a similar column. Sub- 
joined are a few examples of 
these advertisements : 

T AM not sure of identity. Are you 

I Juan of 1873 ? Longing to see 
you. B. 

TV/fY darling, how often do I say from 
iv my heart come and let us reason 
together that we may be happy here and 
live and love for ever. God bless and 
spare us to meet again. 

SATISFIED. Meet Friday outside 
Farringdon Street Station, Three 
p.m. Have slip paper in coat button- 
hole. J. T. 


II who left Bristol on Thursday, 
Sept. 5, is REQUESTED to COM- 
MUNICATE at once with his uncle 
at Keynsham. If any shipping agent 
is aware of his taking passage in any 
boat leaving England, either London, 
Liverpool, or elsewhere, please write 
at once to Mr. J. D. Coates, Keynsham, 
near Bristol. All expenses will be paid. 

The earliest mention in Mur- 
ray's Dictionary is dated 1880, 
but from the following quota- 
tion it will be seen that the term 
has been in use for at least 
twenty years. 

1870. L. OLIPHANT, Piccadilly, part 
II., p. 78. The advertisement of the com- 
mittee, which appeared in the AGONY 
COLUMN of the Times, who wanted to 
know how I wished the money applied. 

1881. W. BLACK, Beautiful Wretch, 
ch. xxiii. There were anonymous appeals 
to the runaways in AGONY COLUMNS. 

Agony Filer. 


Air Line. 

AGONY FILER, subs, (theatrical). 
An actor who performs blood- 
curdling parts in sensational 

AGROUND, adv. (common). Stuck 
fast ; stopped ; at a loss ; ruined ; 
like a boat or vessel AGROUND. 

AIN'T, sometimes A'N'T, verb. phr. 
(vulgar). A corruption for (i 
' am not ' ; (2) ' are not ' ; (3 
'is not.' This vulgarism ap- 
pears to be of much older stand- 
ing than set down in the New 
English Dictionary, where the 
earliest example is dated 1778. 

1710. SWIFT, Journal to Stella, 24 
Nov., Letter ix. I AIN'T vexed at this 

Fuppy business of the bishops, although 
was a little at first. 

1800. COLERIDGE, Piccolomini, II., 
xiii. Ter. Where's the hurry ? Come, 

one other composing draught 

Goetz. Excuse me AIN'T able. Ter. A 
thimble-full ! Goetz. Excuse me. 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, p. 
275. 'You are a clever fellow, Tottle, 
AIN'T you?' 

AIR AND EXERCISE, subs. phr. (old). 
To have had AIR AND EXER- 
CISE, signified that one had un- 
dergone a whipping at the cart's 
tail. About the beginning of 
the present century the same 
operation was termed SHOVING 
THE TUMBLER (q.v.). Among 
thieves at the present time, AIR 
AND EXERCISE means penal ser- 
vitude ; in America it is only 
applied to a short term of im- 

AIRING, subs, (racing). When it is 
not intended that a horse shall 
win a race for which it is brought 
to the starting post, it is said to 


1889. Evening Standard, June 25 
(Sir Chas. Russell's speech in Durham- 

Chetwynd case). What he (Sir C. Rus- 
sell) meant was that Sir G. Chetwynd 
never did anything so gross and vulgar as 
that [tell the jockey to ' pull ' horses], 
and that if horses were pulled, that was 
not the way in which in any class of turf 
society instructions were given. A wink 
was as good as a nod, and trainers and 
jockeys, from various trivial circum- 
stances, very easily gathered whether a 
particular horse was only OUT FOR AN 
AIRING, or whether it was on the job. 


to go direct, and by the shortest 
route; idiomatically, to avoid 
circumlocution. The origin of 
this expression is to be found in 
the straight lines of railway, 
without expensive detours and 
grades, which in the New World 
are rendered possible by the 
vast expanses of unbroken level. 
These lines of railway are called 


SHOOTS (q.v.). De Vere remarks 
that since the number of such 
roads has increased in the more 
thickly settled parts of the 
Union, the advantages of direct 
lines between two great centres 
over others which meander from 
town to town have become very 
manifest, and for a few years a 
tendency to build such AIR LINES 
has agitated Legislatures, from 
whom and from financial circles 
in the States and abroad help is 
asked. These lines not un- 
frequently run for long distances 
by the side of older lines. 

1888. St. Louis Globe Democrat, Jan. 
24. The obese style once admired is 
now disliked. Many old English authors 
had too much rhetoric for our age. Of 
one thing we are profoundly convicted, 
that we have no time to spare for super- 
fluities. An author must take the AIR 
LINE or we will not travel. 

1888. Florida Times Union Adver- 
tisement, Feb. n. Ask for tickets via 
Augusta or Atlanta and fhe Piedmont 

Air One's Heels. 


Albany Beef. 

AIR ONE-S HEELS, verb. phr. (pop- 
ular). To loiter ; to hang 

Am ONE'S VOCABULARY, verb. phr. 
(old). To talk for talking's 
sake ; to show off by one's 
talk; 'to flash the gab.' 
One of the wits of the time of 
George IV. .when asked what was 
going on in the House of Com- 
mons answered that Lord Castle- 
LARY. The term is now rarely 
heard, but the practice is with 
us always. 

AIRY, subs, (vulgar). A corruption 
of ' area,' e.g., 'Down the AIRY 


AJAX, subs. (old). Pronounced 
with both ' a's ' long). The 
name of this hero furnished 
many unsavoury puns to our 
ancestors, from its similarity in 
sound to the two English words, 
A JAKES. In some of the pass- 
ages the allusion is rather 
obscure, as in this : 

1609. BEN JONSON, Epiccene, or The 
Silent Woman, iv., 5. A stool were 
better, sir, of Sir AJAX, his invention. 

It is plainer in Shakspeare : 

1594. Love's Labour Lost, y., a. 
Your lion, that holds his poll-ax, sitting 
on a close stool, will be given to AJAX. 

The cause of all this vein of 
low wit was, perhaps, Sir 
John Harrington, who in 1596 
published his celebrated tract 
called The Metamorphosis of 
AJAX, by which he meant the 
improvement of a jakes, or neces- 
sary, by forming it into what 
we now call a water-closet, of 
which Sir John was clearly the 
inventor. For this offence to 

her delicacy, Queen Elizabeth 
kept him for some time in dis- 
grace. Used directly for a 
necessary house. 

1611. COTGRAVE, Eng. Treasury, p. 
1 6. Which (like the glorious AJAX of 
Lincoln's Inne, I saw in London) laps 
up naught but filth and excrements. 

1720. Hasp, of Incurab. Fooles, p. 6. 
Adoring Sterculio for a god, no lesse 
unworthily then shamfully constituting 
him a patron and protector of AJAX and 
his commodities. 

To the above work of Sir J. 
Harrington, Ben Jonson seems 
to allude, as a masterpiece in 
its way, when, at the conclusion 
of a dirty poem, he says, 

1574-1637. On the Famous Voyage, 
vol. VI., p. 290 : 
And I could wish for their eterniz'd 

My muse had plough'd with his that 

sung A-JAX. 

The rhyme here proves that 
the pronunciation of the time 
was suited to the English mean- 
ing. Even Camden condescends 
to play upon this word. Speak- 
ing of the French word pet, he 

1605. Remains, p. 117. Inquire, if 
you understand it not, of Cloacina's 
Chaplains, or such as are well read in 

AKERMAN'S HOTEL, subs, (obsolete). 
Newgate prison was once 
so called. The governor's 
name was AKERMAN. See CAGE. 

AKEYBO. A slang phrase used in 
the following manner : He 
beats AKEYBO, and AKEYBO beat 
the devil. Hotten. 


ALBANY BEEF, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can). The popular name of 
the flesh of the sturgeon. This, 


Alderman's Pace. 

in color and taste, has some 
resemblance to beef, especially 
when cut in steaks and grilled. 
Albany is a town on the Hud- 
son River as high as which the 
fish in question is or was to be 
caught in large numbers, and 
as a matter of course, it con- 
sequently formed a not incon- 
siderable factor in the food 
supply of the inhabitants 
hence the term ALBANY BEEF. 

ALBERTOPOLIS, subs, (popular). 
A nickname formerly given by 
Londoners to the Kensington 
Gore district, out of compli- 
ment to the late Prince Con- 
sort. The Albert Hall and the 
Exhibition buildings of 1862, 
with which Prince Albert was 
so closely identified, are situated 
within the radius ; and the 
Albert Memorial is hard by. 

1864. E. YATES, Broken to Harness, 
ch. xxxiii., p. 366 (1877). Mr. Cauthar 
tripped out of the house, and devoted the 
remainder of the evening to working out 
a composition for the nutriment ot th 
hair, which, under the name of Cauthar's 
Crinibus, has an enormous circulation 
over the infant heads of ALBERTOPOLIS. 

ALBONIZED, ppl. adj. (pugilistic). 
Whitened. [From *L.albus, white.] 

ALDERMAN, subs, (popular). i. A 
half-crown. This term is ex- 
plained by Brewer as containing 
an allusion to the fact that an 
alderman is a kind of half-king, 
whatever that may mean. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 3 
ed., p. 444. Two shillings and sixpence 


2. A long pipe ; also called a 
CHURCHWARDEN (q.v.) ; in both 
instances the name is probably 
an allusion to the penchant these 
personages had at one time for 
the long clay. 

1859. FAIRHOLT, Tobacco (1876), 173. 
Such long pipes were reverently termed 
ALDERMAN in the last age, and irreve- 
rently yards of clay in the present one. 

3. A turkey ; a variant is AN 
ALDERMAN IN CHAINS; *'.., aroast 
turkey well stuffed and garnished 
with sausages. The latter are 
said to be emblematical of the 
gold chain worn by the civic 
dignitary what then about the 
stuffing ? 

1782. GEORGE PARKER, Humorous 
Sketches, p. 31. Nick often eat a roast 
fowl and sausage with me, which in cant 
is called an ALDERMAN, double slang'd. 

4. (thieves 1 ). A JEMMY (q.v.) ; 
sometimes ALDERMAN JEMMY. A 
weightier tool is called a Lord 
Mayor, whereby it is clear that 
the criminal classes are not with- 
out some kind of respect for the 
city fathers. The tool is used 
for burglary purposes. 

1883. Daily Telegraph, May 14, p. 
:ol. 7. A complete set of safe-break- 
ing tools had been used and left behind, 

including wedges, an ALDERMAN JEMMY, 
a hammer weighing 14 Ibs. 

1888. Saturday Review, 15 Dec., p. 
719. One side of slang was illustrated 
by the burglar Casey in a well-known 
case of robbery in the City some years 
ago, who explained in Court that the 
big jemmy with which iron shutters were 
prised open was called the 'ALDERMAN,' 
adding, ' it would never do to be talking 
about crowbars in the street.' 

MAN, subs. phr. (popular). A 
pompous man ; one with a ' cor- 
poration.' The allusion is ,to 
the alleged or real over-eating 
and drinking of ALDERMEN as 
a class. 

tralian). ^ntoxicating bever- 


PACE. i 

ALDERMAN'S PACE. A slow and 
stately gait, like that of a burly 

A Id gate . 


man as aldermen are generally 
represented. The French have 
an equivalent phrase, pas d'abbc-. 

AT A.'LDG\TE.,subst.phy. (commer- 
cial). A bad bill of exchange. 
A play on the word ' draught.' 


ALECIE, ALECY, subs, (old nonce 
words) [from ALE + suffix CIE 
or CY, as in 'lunacy']. The 
state of being under the influ- 
ence of ale ; drunkenness ; also 

1594. J. LYLY, Mother Bombie, cc. 9. 
If he had arrested a mare instead of a 
horse, it had beene a slight oversight, 
but to arrest a man, that hath no like- 
nesse of a horse, isflatlunasie, or ALECIE. 

ALE- DRAPER, subs, (old) [from ALE 
+ DRAPER as in linen-draper] . 
A humorous title for an ale- 
house keeper ; probably from the 
ancient custom of measuring 
ale by the yard. It long sur- 
vived dialectically, but is now 
obsolete. Synonyms were RUM- 

1593. HENRY CHETTLE,Kinde-Harts 
Dreams. Two milch maydens that had 
set up a shoppe of ALE-DRAPERY. 

1747. In Parish Register- of Scatter, 
Line. [Buried], July 8th, Thomas 
Broughton, Farmer and ALE DRAPER. 

ALE-KNIGHT, subs. phr. (old) [from 
ALE + KNIGHT, used derisively]. 
A tippler; a boon companion. 

1575. Eccl. Proc. t Chester. [The 
Vicar of Whalley, Lane., is charged 
with being a common dronker and ALE 

1654. WITT'S Recreations. 
Come all you brave wights, 
That are dubbed ALE-KNIGHTS 
Now set out youselves in fight : 
And let them that crack 
In the praises of sack, 
Know malt is of mickle might. 

1863-64. CHAMBERS' Bk. of Days, ii., 
597. This man was a regularly dubbed 
ALE-KNIGHT, loved barley wine to the full. 

ALES, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
The shares in the brewery busi- 
ness of S. Allsopp and Sons, 
Limited, are thus known. 

ALE SPINNER, subs, phr. (old) [from 
ALE + SPINNER, a manufacturer 
or producer]. A brewer or 

ALEXANDRA LIMP, subs, (popular). 
The name given to an erstwhile 
fit of semi-imbecility on the 
part of ' Society.' The Princess 
of Wales, through a slight in- 
firmity, walks with a suspicion 
of lameness, and servile imita- 
tion of everything pertaining to 
royalty caused the sudden ap- 
pearance (circa 1860-70) of a 
crowd of limping petticoated 
toadies. The craze passed 
away as suddenly as it came. 

1876. Chambers' Journal, No. 629. 
Your own advocacy of the Grecian bend 
and the ALEXANDRA LIMP both positive 
and practical imitations of physical 
affliction. [H.] 

ALFRED DAVID, subs, (common). 
An affidavit obviously a hu- 
morous corruption in pronuncia- 
tion ; also AFFIDAVY ; and, by 
an extended process of curtail- 
ment, DAVY. All are common 
colloquialisms among the un- 
educated classes. AFTER-DAVY 
is likewise occasionally heard, 
generally in connection with a 
person in extremis. 

ALGERINE, subs, (theat.) A member 
of a company who, when ' the 
ghost ' cannot be induced to 
walk, i.e., when the exchequer 
is low, and salaries are not paid, 

A live and Kicking. 


' remonstrates ' with the mana- 
ger. The term is also used to 
designate the hard-up borrower 
of petty sums. 

ALIVE AND K\CK\NG,adv.phr. (popu- 
lar). An intensive form of 
1 ALIVE ' in its most colloquial 
sense of being alert and full of 
action. In the days of Pierce 
Egan's Tom and Jerry, ALIVE par- 
took far more of the nature of 
slang than now. Sometimes 
FLY. The allusion is to a child 
in the womb after quickening. 

1889. Globe, Oct. 4, p. i, col. 3. 
Next day there appeared a letter from 
a Mr. Basil Watts Phillips, who pro- 
claimed himself as a son of the play- 
wright, and stated, moreover, that his 
mother, the playwright's widow, as well 
as another son, named Gordon, were 
to use a popular phrase ' alive and 
kicking.' Miss Emma, therefore, could 
hardly be recognised, with fairness, as 
the ' only living representative of the 
late Watts Phillips.' 

A LLACOM PA i N.swfo. (rhyming slang). 


In the so-called rhyming slang 
this is the equivalent of rain. 

2. (common). Candy sup- 
posed to be made from the root 
of inula helenium or bellwort ; it 
contains, however, little else 
than colored sugar. 

ALL A-FLOAT -(rhyming slang). A 

ALL ALIVE, adv. and adj. (tailors'). 
Ill-made garments, and ' mis- 
fits,' are said to be ALL ALIVE. 

ALL ALONG OF (vulgarism). On ac- 
count of ; by reason of, etc. 


ALL AROUND SPORTS, sub. (Ameri- 
can). Obviously a corruption 


men whose interest in sport is 
catholic, and all embracing. 

ALL AT SEA, adv. phr. (popular). 
In an uncertain, vague con- 
dition. Of nautical origin, and 
perhaps more colloquial than 
slang ; equivalent to ALL 
ABROAD (q.v.). 

ALL BRANDY, adv. phr. (common). 
When it is desired to com- 
mend or speak well of any- 
thing it is said to be ALL 
BRANDY. The use of such a 
term suggests curious reflec- 
tions upon the drinking habits 
of those who employ it. 

SYNONYMS. Ai; thepure quill; 
about east ; about right ; at 
par ; the cheese. 


ALLEVIATOR, subs, (common). A 
drink; refreshment. 

1846. MARK LEMON, Golden Fetters. 
If any of you feel thirsty after this 
exciting interview, I shall be happy to 
stand an ALLEVIATOR. 

SYNONYMS. Gargle ; smile ; 
Alderman Lushington ; long 
sleeved 'un (Australian, when 
taken from a long glass) ; 
shout ; etc. See GARGLE. 

ALLEY, ALLY, A LAY, subs, (school- 
boys' term). A superior kind 
of marble. Supposed to be 
a corrupted and abbreviated 
form of ' alabaster,' of which 
these superior kind of marbles 
are sometimes made. ALLEY 
is the name given to the 
medium sizes, smaller ones 


All Gay. 

being called MIVVIES (q.v.), 
and the largest BONCES (q.v.). 
The word sometimes appears 


De Foe, in ' Duncan Campbell," 
as early as 1720, speaks of a 
large bag of marbles and ALLEYS, 
and at that time the term was 
considered vulgar. It is in- 
teresting to note that the sup- 
posed derivation of ALLEY from 
alabaster is borne out by the 
fact, that among school-boys 
stone marbles are called 
STONEYS (q.v.), and clay ones 
COMMONEYS (q.v.). Ad- 
ditional weight is also given 
to the accuracy of this deriva- 
tion, when it is remembered 
that what are known as 
DUTCH ALLEYS' (q.v.), are 
only STONEYS enamelled or 
glazed different colours. In 
old Berlin slang, ALLEY TORS 
were known as Kalbacher. 

(American). Thought by most 
to be a Puritanical corruption of 
'hell-fired,' and in that respect 
a profane euphemistic adjective. 
In this connection it carries 
with it the meaning of ' im- 
mense/ 'excessive,' or 'in- 
ordinate ' in general ; but, of 
course, the primary significa- 
tion of this corruption is 
perfectly obvious. Some, how- 
ever, think the word may be 
taken at its face value [ALL+ 
FIRE+ED.] , an intensitive of the 
merely rhetorical fire. Com- 
mon now on both sides of the 

1755. The World, No. 140. How 
arbitrary is language ! arid how does the 
custom of mankind join words, that 
reason has put asunder ! Thus we often 
hear of HELL-FIRE COLD, of devilish 
handsome, and the like. 

1835. HALIBURTON, Clockmaker, i 
S., ch. xxiv. ' Look at that 'ere Dives, 1 
they say, 'what an ALL-FIRED scrape he 
got into by his avarice with Lazarus ' 

1861. HUGHES, Tom Brown at 
Oxford, ch. xl. ' I knows I be so ALL- 
FIRED jealous; I can't abear to hear o' 
her talkin', let alone writin' to - ' 

1883. JAMES PAYN, Thicker than 
Water, ch. xvii. ' Well,' he said .... 
'you've been an ALL-FIRED time you 
have in selling those jars.' 


FOURS, verb.phr. (popular) .-From 
the four legs of a quadruped, or 
the two legs and two arms of a 
child or man. Hence to go on 
ALL FOURS is to go evenly, the 
figure of speech presented being 
the reverse of limping like a lame 
dog. Thence follows the meta- 
phorical use of the phrase in 
the sense of exact analogy and 
similarity of relation. It is 
thus synomyous with ' as like 
as two peas ' (the French say, 
comme deux goitttes d'eau, as like 
as two drops of water) ; ' a 
chip of the old block ' ; a 
' Chinese copy,' etc. At the 
same time, a show of proba- 
bility must be conceded to 
those philologists who refer the 
phrase to the masonic symbol 
of the square, emblematic of 
harmony and completeness. 
Possibly masons gave its use a 
fresh impetus. 

ALL GAMMON! phr. (common). 
All nonsense ; rubbish ! See 

ALL GAY, adv. (thieves'). All 
serene ; all right ; the coast is 
clear. The French voleur says, 
c'est franco ! 


33 All Lombard Street. 

ALL-GET-OUT, phr. (American). 
That beats ALL-GET-OUT, is an 
old retort to any extravagant 
story or assertion. Barrere 
says, ' oh, get out ! ' appears to 
have suggested the phrase, 
which is, perhaps, not alto- 
gether obvious. 

phr. (old). An expression 
borrowed from seafaring life, 
signifying concentration of 
energy in any one direction. 
Now-a-days we say, ' a long 
pull, a strong pull, and a pull 
altogether ' ; this also is a 
sailor's phrase. 

verbial phr. (popular). No work 
to do; and, as a concomitant, 
nothing to eat. A play upon 
words. See PECKISH. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. ALL 
HOLIDAY AT PECKHAM .... a saying 
signifying that it is all over with the 
business or person spoken of or alluded 

1848. FORSTER, Oliver Goldsmith, 
bk. I., ch. vi., p. 55 (sed.) 'Oh, that is 


friend very innocently one day, is a 
common proverbial phrase. 

It seems that Goldsmith in 
the early part of his London 
life passed some miserable 
months as usher in a school at 
Peckham, and the memory of 
this doleful period was ever 
bitter to him Years afterwards, 
a friend in conversation hap- 
pened to speak facetiously of it 
being ' all holiday at Peckham,' 
and was surprised to find that 
this innocent reference to a 
recognised proverbial phrase 
was regarded by Goldsmith as 
an unkind allusion to his past 
misery, and, therefore, a personal 

ALL HOLLOW, adv. (popular). To 


i.e., utterly; completely. 

ALL HOT I subs, (common). A hot 
potato. A cry used by peri- 
patetic street vendors. 

ALL IN, phr. (Stock Exchange). 
When the market is depressed 
and a disposition to sell pre- 
vails, it is said to be ALL IN. 
Conversely, ALL OUT signifies 
that the market is improving. 


ALL IN FITS, adv. phr. (tailors'). 
Badly made clothes are said to 
be ALL IN FITS, or to have a 
paralytic stroke. Such garments 
are also said to fit where they 
touch, i.e., nowhere. Now 

HEAD, adv. phr. (common). 
Said of one who is a great 
talker ; or, who has the gift of 
the gab. 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 41. ' Look at 
the man ! hear him ; why, he's ALL JAW 
LIKE A SHEEP'S HEAD. He was drummed 
out of the regiment he was in for eating 
his comrades' knapsacks.' 

A synonym is ALL MOUTH. See 

ORANGE, phr. (old) ; sometimes 
PENCE. One of many fanciful 
forms of betting once current 
among the sporting fraternity; 
others were ' Chelsea College to 
a sentry box,' ' Pompey's Pillar 
to a stick of sealing wax,' etc. 
1819. THOMAS MOORE, Tom Cribb's 

Memorial to Congress, p. 38 

A pause ensued "till crie of ' Greg- 

A II Moonshine. 


All My Eye. 

Brought Bob, the poet, on his legs 

My eyes, how prettily Bob writes! 

Talk of your camels, hogs and crabs, 
And twenty more such Pidcock frights 

Bob's worth a hundred of these dabs, 
on it. 

ALL MOONSHINE, adverbial phr. 
(popular). Moonshine is in 
old-fashioned and provincial 
English ' an illusive shadow ,' 
' a mere pretence ' [Halliwell]. 
The expression IT is ALL MOON- 
SHINE is now variously applied, 
whether as referring to empty 
professions, to vain boasts, to 
promises not trustworthy, to 
questionable statements, or to 
any kind of extravagant talk. 
There exist in several languages 
so many words of lunar con- 
nection, all implying variable- 
ness or inconstancy, that possi- 
bly this phrase also, IT is ALL 
MOONSHINE, may have been 
primarily employed to express 
some degree of fickleness, or ca- 
price ; in allusion to the incon- 
stancy or changeableness of the 
moon, or rather moonlight. 
When anyone professes or 
promises great things, which 
we do not expect to see realized, 
we say IT is ALL MOONSHINE, 
for moonshine is very shifty ; 
one week we have it, another 
we have it not ; nay, it shifts 
from night to night. 'Lunes' 
in old English, are not only 
fits of insanity, but freaks. 
And the term ' lunatic ' itself 
did not properly signify a 
person always insane, but one 
who was mad at intervals, de- 
pendent as was supposed on the 
phases of the moon. This dis- 
tinction is still very accurately 
maintained in Spanish philology: 
' Lunatics, El loco, cuya dementia 
no est continua, sino por intervalos 

que proceden del est ado en que se 
holla la Luna.' Hence also in 
French, modern and old : ' II a 
des hines,' he is whimsical or 
fantastic. ' Tenir de la lune,' 
to be inconstant, mutable ; 
'Avoir un quartier de la lune,' 
en la teste,' or II y a de la lune, he 
is changeable, giddy, capricious. 
In the ' language of symbols ' 
the moon is the emblem of 
hypocrisy, as in the following 
device : 

' La lune avec ces mots, 

Mentiri didicit. 

(Elle trompe toujours.) 
Pour 1'hypocrisie, dont la lune est le 
symbole.' MENESTRIAR, Philosophic des 
Images, vol. I., p. 266. 

Another emblem is the fol- 
lowing : 

' La lune, 

Non vultus non color unus, 
Pour une personne qui n'est pas sincere.' 
Ibid, I., p. 269. 

Moonshine, in conformity with 
these ideas, was probably em- 
ployed originally in charac- 
terising the talk of persons 
too mutable to be relied on 
from one time to another. Notes 
and Queries. 

1714. Spectator, No. 597. Several 
of my correspondents have been pleased 
to send me an account how they have 
been employed in sleep, and what notable 
adventure they have been engaged in 

1874. MRS. H. WOOD, Johnny Litd- 
low, i S., No. xxii., p. 397. 'They are 
all pig-headed together . . . they are 
blinded by specious arguments that will 
turn out, I fear, to be ALL MOONSHINE.' 

ALL MOUTH, adv. (common). Ap- 
plied to a loquacious talker. 
Cf., ALL JAW. 

ALL Mv EYE, adv. phr. (common). 
Variations in form are : ALL 



A II My Eye. 


A II My Eye. 

GRANDMOTHER. All nonsense ; 
rubbish. The suggested de- 
rivations of this significant 
retort to a tedious narration 
containing neither rhyme nor 
reason are as various as the 
forms in which the phrase 
appears. Not so clear, how- 
ever, is the evidence in support 
of any of them, although Bar- 
rere unwittingly stumbles upon 
what is probably the true 
origin. Had he studied the 
subject of slang historically, 
he would have been able to 
adduce adequate proof for 
what he merely puts forth as 
a ' more probable ' derivation 
than those of his predecessors. 
After stating that some have sug- 
gested the origin of the phrase 
in the Welsh, AL MI HIVY, it is 
very tedious or all nonsense, he 
says, ' It seems far more proba- 
ble that it is a contraction of the 
phrase ' there is as much of it 
as there is in ALL MY EYE,' the 
words being made more forci- 
ble by closing one of the organs 
of vision. To express dissent 
from any statement, or a re- 
fusal to comply with a request. 
French slang has the corre- 
sponding term mon ail! which 
is usually accompanied by a 
knowing wink and a significant 
gesture as an invitation to in- 
spect the organ.' From a 
comparative study of the dates 
and examples which follow, it 
seems a fair deduction to as- 
sume that the original form of 
the phrase was simply ALL MY 
EYE, and that the additional 
tags given above are later im- 

swer to the Epistle of M. de la Mille- 
tiere [Works, vol. I., pp. 68-9. ed. Ox. 
1842.] Fifthly, suppose (all this notwith- 

standing) such a conference should 
hold, what reason have you to promise 
to yourself such success as to obtain so 
easy a victory ? You have had con- 
ferences and conferences again at Poissy 
and other places, and gained by them 
just as much as you might PUT IN YOUR 
EYE and see never the worse. 

1682. Preface to Julian the Apostate 
(London, printed for Langley Curtis). 
What benefit a Popish successor can 
reap from lives and fortunes spent in 
defence of the Protestant religion he 
may PUT IN HIS EYE ; and what the 
Protestant religion gets by lives and 
fortunes spent in the service of a Popish 
successor will be over the left shoulder. 

1768. GOLDSMITH, Good-natured 
Man, Act iii. Bailiff. That's ALL MY 
EYE. The king only can pardon. 

1811. POOLE, Hamlet Travestied, i, i. 
As for black clothes, THAT'S ALL MY 

Hotten's contention, that ALL 


was a vulgar phrase constructed 
from the commencement of a 
Roman Catholic prayer to St. 
Martin (the patron saint of 
drunkards), 'Oh, mihi, beate 
Marti ne,' which in common 
with many another fell into 
discredit and ridicule after the 
Reformation, is both fanciful 
and untrue. In the first place 
there is no prayer in the 
Breviary which answers to the 
description given ; and in the 
second it has been shown that 
the essential part of the phrase 
is very much older than the 
Joe Millerism which first set 
the copy for every lexico- 
grapher of the ' unwritten 
word,' from Hotten down to 
Brewer and Barrere, the latter 
of whom, strangely enough, 
after pitching on the right 
track, stultifies himself by an 
admission that ALL MY EYE AND 
BETTY MARTIN seems to have 
been the original phrase. The 
earliest example of the ' Betty 
Martin' form, found after 

All Nations. 

A II Out. 

long search, occurs in Tom 
Crib's Memorial to Congress, 
published in 1819, where it 
appears simply as ALL MY EYE, 
BETTY, but that the phrase 
was known long previously is 
proved by the extract from 
Poole quoted above. 

of refusal or incredulity, are : 
Cock and bull story ; a wild- 
goose chase ; a mare's nest ; 
fiddle-de-dee ; do you see any 
green in my eye? that's a 
flam ; over the left ; go teach 
your grannie to suck eggs ; 
Walker ! you be blowed ! You 
be hanged! Not for Joe! 
How's your brother, Job ? 
Don't you wish you may get 
it ? Yes, in a horn (American); 
That's all round my hat. 

FR. Des fadeurs (lit. insipid- 
ity) ; C'est des vannes ? (lit. flood- 
gates or sluices); des nefles (lit. 
medlars) ; des navets ! (turnips) ; 
de I'anis ! (lit. aniseed) ; du flan ! 
(lit. custard) ; tu fen f era is 
moitrir ! (lit. you will die after 
it) ; man ceil ! (my eye) ; flute ! 
Zut ! (go to the deuce !) ; et ta 
sceur ? (phrase of the ' who's 
your hatter ' stamp) ; des plis ! 
(don't you wish you may get 
it) ; la peau ! (blow it all !) ; de 
la mousse ! (expression of ironi- 
cal refusal) ; du vent ! (go to 
pot !); des emblemes ! ; desfouilles /; 
on t'enfricasse ! 

ALL NATIONS, subs. (old). I. A 
mixture of the drainings of all 
kinds of spirits and malt liquors ; 
it is of an extremely intoxi- 
cating character. Sometimes 
called ALLS, or ALL SORTS. 

2. A parti-colored dress or 
coat ; a Joseph's garment. Also 
one that is patched. 

ALL-NIGHT-MAN, subs. (old). A 
body snatcher. Now obsolete. 

1861. RAMSAY, Remin, ser. ii., 133. 
The body lifters, or ALL-NIGHT-MEN, as 
they were wont to be called. 


ALL OF A HOUGH, adv.phr. (tailors'). 
Said of an unskilled workman. 
Equivalent to clumsy ; bung- 
ling ; unworkmanlike. Hotten 
quotes this as a Suffolk phrase 
(HOUGH being spelt Hugh, and 
pronounced with a grunt). 
Synonymous with ' all on one 
side ' ; falling with a thump. 

ALL OF MY LONE, adv. pJir. (Ameri- 
can). A negro vulgarism for 


ALL ON THE Go (vulgarism). See 

ALL OUT, adv. phr. (vulgar). i. 
Entirely ; completely ; by far, 
as in 'ALL OUT the best.' This 
vulgarism must now be classed 
among depraved words ; but as 
far as written English is con- 
cerned, it can be traced back to 
the year 1300. It seems to 
have fallen out of use about the 
middle of the seventeenth cen- 

1830. CARLETON, Traits and Stories, 
vol. II., p. 102. ' He's now in his grave, 
and, thank God, it's he that had the 
dacent funeral ALL OUT.' 

2. Another old English ex- 
pression, now obsolete, is TO 
DRINK ALL OUT, to empty a 
bumper; and hence, 

3. Used substantively, e.g., 
an ALL OUT being equivalent to 
what 'Arry would call now-a- 
days a BIG DRUNK. The con- 
nection between the ancient and 
modern usage is clear. 



All Round. 

4. To BE ALL OUT also sig 
nifies to be in error ; quite 

5. (turf). A man is said to 
be ALL OUT when unsuccessful 
during the whole of a day's 

6. (Stock Exchange). See 

7. (athletic). Exhausted; 
said of a man or crew who, hav- 
ing exerted him or themselves 
to the utmost, can do no more. 

1886. Graphic, April 10, p. 392. 
Pitman, the Cambridge stroke, after 
passing the ' Queen's Head,' Mortlake, 
put on a grand spurt, to which his crew 
fairly responded, though pretty well ALL 

ALL-OVERISH, adj. (colloquial). An 
indefinite feeling which per- 
vades the body at critical 
periods, when sickening for an 
illness, or at a moment of 
supreme excitement, as when 
about to ' pop the question ' 
which, says Hotten, 'is some- 
times called feeling all over 
alike, and touching nowhere.' 
Synonyms are ' to feel all round 
one's hat,' and ' chippy.' 

1851. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. III., p. 52. ' When the 
mob began to gather round, I felt ALL- 

ALL-OVERISHNESS, subs. (collo- 
quial). The state of being all- 
overish. See foregoing. 

1854. AINSWORTH, Flitch of Bacon, 
pt. II., ch. v. ' I feel a sort of shivering 

1841. JOHN MILLS, Old English 
Gentleman, ch. xxiv., p. 186 (3 ed.). 
' Isn't it natural for a body to feel a sort 
of a queer ALL-OVERISHNESS on the eve 
of a wedding, I should like to know ? ' 

ALL OVER PATTERN, subs. plw. (com- 
mon). Used in describing pat- 

terns that are intricate, or de- 
signs in which the pattern is not 
of a set character. 

1881. F. E. HULME. Suggestions 
in Floral Design. A term [ALL OVER 
PATTERN] used to denote a design in 
which the whole of a field is covered 
with ornament in contradistinction to 
such as have units only at intervals, 
leaving spaces of the ground between 
them. The ornament of the Moors as 
seen in the decorations of the Alhambra, 
and that of Eastern nations generally, 
is most commonly of this nature; the 
whole surface of the object is covered 
with decorative forms so as to present 
to the eye a mass of elaborate detail, the 
leading lines of which can often only be 
detected by careful scrutiny. When, as 
in some Persian surfaces, these lines are 
often quite lost, the result is unsatis- 

ALL OVER THE SHOP, adv. phr. (com- 
mon). r. A phrase applied to 
any ubiquitous person, thing or 
deed. See SHOP. 

1883. G. R. SIMS, Lifeboat, etc. (Awful 
Character). He kills little babies ALL 
OVER THE SHOP, each day in a river one 
thrown is. 

2. Disconcerted. 

1887. E. E. MONEY, Little Dutch 
Maiden, II., xi., 225. ' Oh, please don't 
blush ; it makes me feel ALL OVER THE 

ALLOW, subs. (Harrow School). A 
boy's weekly allowance. 

ALLOWANCES, subs, (tailors'). The 
extra measure in cutting cloth 
for a garment to permit of turn- 
ings in for seams ; also the 
trimmings, such as wadding, 
buttons, braid, etc. Rather 
technical than slang. 

ALL ROUND, adj. (popular). i. Able 
in all departments ; adaptable in 
every respect to the purpose in 
view. Whether applied to sport, 
business, or indeed any depart- 
ment of life or thought, within a 

A It-Rounder. 

A II Set. 

given circle, it carries with it, 
mutatis mutandis, the same mean- 

1881. JAMES PAYN, Grape from a 
Thorn, ch. xl. 'He's a bad one ALL ROUND.' 

1883. Graphic, August n, p. 138, 
col. 2. Foremost still as an ' ALL-ROUND ' 
cricketer among the gentlemen stands 
W. G. Grace. 

2. Average; see quotation. 

1869. Notes on N. W. Prov. India, 
p. 98. We find an ALL ROUND rent of 
so much per acre charged on the cultiva- 

ALL-ROUNDER, subs, (popular) . 
[From ALL ROUND + erj he who 
or that which is ALL ROUND 
(q.v.) ; as an all round man ; 
particularly applied, however, to 
a shirt collar the same height all 
round the neck and meeting in 
front. Once fashionable, but 
little worn now. 

1857. A. TROLLOPE, Three Clerks, 
ch. xxii. But he had bestowed, perhaps, 
the greatest amount of personal attention 
on his collar . . . Some people may 
think that an ALL-ROUNDER is an ALL- 
ROUNDER, and that if one is careful to 
get an ALL-ROUNDER one has done all 
that is necessary. But so thought not 
Macassar Jones. 

1860. All the Year Round, No. 42, 
369. That particularly demonstrative 
type of the [collar] species known as 

the ALL ROUNDER. [M.] 

1865. LORD STRANGFORD, Selection 
(1869), II., 163. Dressed in full uniform, 
with high stand-up collar; the modern 
ALL ROUNDER not having got so far into 
Asia. [M.] 

1875. Chambers' Journal, No. 586. 
To present himself in an ALL ROUNDER 
hat and coat of formal cut on Sunday. 

ALL ROUND MY HAT, adv.phr. (popu- 

ONE'S HAT is to feel queer ; out 
of sorts ; all overish. 

HAT is synonymous with gam- 
jnon ! Nonsense ! See ALL MY 

EYE. A music hall song [1834] 
had this phrase as a refrain. 


HAT, i.e., sensational. 

1882. Punch, vol. LXXXII, p. 177, 
col. i. 'ARRY ON A JEWRY. 

Fact is, I have bin on a JURY. NEW 
line for yours truly, dear boy, and I 
'oped it might be a rare barney, a thing 
as a chap could enjoy. I am nuts upon 
Criminal Cases, Perlice News, you know, 
and all that, And, thinks I, this will be 
1 tuppence coloured,' and SPICY AS ALL 


ALLS, subs. i. See ALL NATIONS. 

1868. BREWER, Phrase and Fable, 
s.v. ALLS, tap-droppings. The refuse of all 
sorts of spirits drained from the glasses, 
or spilt in drawing. The mixture is 
sold in gin-houses at a cheap rate. 

2. (artisans'). See BENS. 


ALL SERENE! intj. (popular). --All 
right. All's well ! This phrase 
is thought to be of Spanish 
origin, and to be derived from 
the word serena a counter- 
sign used by sentinels in Cuba. 
The night watchmen in Spain 
likewise end their proclamation 
of the hour by ' c sereno ! ' It 
is also equivalent to O.K., and 
a few years since was the bur- 
den of one of the senseless street 
cries, which, every now and 
again, have a vogue in large 
cities. Most of these catches 
originate in music-hall songs. 
ALL SERENE, however, was vul- 
garly colloquial long before the 
period in question, as will be 
seen by the following example : 

1857. A. TROLLOPE, Three Clerks, ch. 
xlv. 'You're ALL SERENE, then, Mr. 
Snape,' said Charley ; ' you're in the 
right bon.' 

All Smoke. 


A II to Pieces. 


ALL SORTS, subs, (common). Ex- 
plained by quotation. See ALL 


1859. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. vi. A counter perforated in elabo- 
rately-pricked patterns, like a convivial 
shroud, apparently for ornament, but 
really for the purpose of allowing the 
drainings, overflowings, and out-spill- 
ings of the gin-glasses to drop through, 
which, being collected with sundry 
washings, and a dash, perhaps, of fresh 
material, is, by the thrifty landlord, dis- 
pensed to his customers under the title 


ALL SORTS OF, adj. (American). 
First rate ; excellent. A phrase 
very common in the South and 
West, and used in many differ- 
ent ways. It carries with it 
the idea of smartness and chic, 
as, e.g. , when applied to a woman, 
a horse, or a building. 

ALLSPICE, subs, (popular.) A nick- 
name for a grocer ; the deriva- 
tion is obvious. 

(American). A period of un- 
disturbed rest, quiet enjoyment, 
or peaceful possession ; a phrase 
dating from the Civil War, 
when its frequent repetition in 
the bulletins of the War Secre- 
tary made it familiar to the 
public, who quickly appropri- 
ated it in a metaphorical sense. 
It has since formed the refrain 
of many a song. 
1862. The Picket Guard. 


Except now and then a stray picket 

Is shot on his beat as he walks to and 

By a rifleman hid in a thicket. 

ALL T. H., adv. phr. (tailors cut- 
ters'). Said in praise or ap- 

proval ; a tailor's equivalent of 
A i ; all right ; all there of 
which last it is possibly an 
abbreviated form. 

ALL THE CABOOSE, adv. phr. See 

ALL THE Go, adv. phr. (common]. 
One of the innumerable 
superlatives of work - a - day 
English ; quite up to the mark ; 
in full demand; ' no deception, 
gents ! ' See Go. 

ALL THERE, adv. phr. (popular). 
Up to the mark ; first-rate ; 
ready for any emergency ; a 
phrase of general satisfaction 
and approval ; also, in one's 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 220. ' He stayed in a place 
doing the grand and sucking the flats 
till the folks began to smoke him as not 


1880. Punch, Aug. 7, p. 59. ALL 
THERE ! Clerk (who has called to see the 
gas-meter). ' Is yours a wet, or a dry 
meter, madam ? ' Young Wife (who does 
not like to show ignorance). ' Well, it is 
rather damp, I'm afraid ! ' 

1883. JAMES PAYN, Thicker than 
Water, ch. xx. It was his excusable 
boast, though expressed in somewhat 
vulgar language, that when anything 
was wanted he was ' ALL THERE.' 

ALL THE SHOOT. Equivalent to 


ALL THE WAY DOWN, adv. phr. 
(popular) . Synonymous with 
complete adaptibility to the 
end in view ; sometimes varied 



ALL TO PIECES, adverbial phr. (com- 
mon). i. [C/. Go TO PIECES.] 

All to Smash. 

4 o 


A superlative of all work. To 

GO ALL TO PIECES is to Collapse 

utterly ; to be altogether ruined ; 
to be in a state of utter collapse. 

1667. PEPYS, Diary, Aug. 29. I find 
by all hands that the Court is at this day 
ALL TO PIECES, every man of a faction of 
one sort or other. 

1811. JANE AUSTEN, Sense and S., 
ch. xxx. ' Fifty thousand pounds ! and 
by all accounts it won't come before its 
wanted; for they say he is ALL TO 
PIECES. No wonder ! dashing about 
with his curricle and hunters ! ' 

1882. Punch, LXXXII., 185, 2. 'Ah 
Jerry, we might as well go back to the 
Shades as be among such a shady 
crowd.' Young Bob Logic seemed 
rather nettled at this speech of the 
Corinthian's, and said, ' Well, don't you 
know you can't expect a fellow to look 
very bright till he's had an S. and B., or 
two and a Kiimmel? These pals will be 
all right after dinner.' 'Let us hope 
they will,' said the Corinthian, ' for they 


2. When a woman is con- 
fined she is said TO GO ALL TO 
PIECES ; variants being TO EX- 

3. (rowing). Collapsed; ex- 
hausted ; said of a crew when 
rowing wildly. 

1884. Echo, April j, p. 3, col. i. The 
Oxford men were now ALL TO PIECES I 
their boat was full of water. 

4. (sporting). In racing and 
athletic circles equivalent to 
want of form. 

ALL TO SMASH, adv. phr. (common). 
Also ' ALL TO PIECES,' i.e., 
bankrupt ; ruined ; in a state of 
utter delapidation ; or, complete 
discomfiture. See SMASH. 

1861. CUTHBERT BEDE, Our New 
Rector, ch. x., p. 105. 'There isn't a 
fellow at school can match me, Miss 
Moore ! I beat them ALL TO SMASH !' 

ALL UP, adv. phr. (common). ' It's 
ALL UP ' with so-and-so, or with 
such and such a thing, or course 

of action ; i.e., the endeavour is 
fruitless ; utter ruin or collapse 
is the end of it all ; there is 
nothing left for hope ; some- 
times also, death. This phrase, 
indicative of total failure, dis- 
comfiture, and destruction, does 
not appear to be of very ancient 
standing, and can only be traced 
back as far as Fielding (see quo- 
tation). The mock epitaph, 
which the late Mr. W. J. Cony- 
beare inserted in his novel Per- 
version, fitly illustrates the popu- 
lar usage of ALL UP. It is 
supposed to be written in com- 
memoration of a country squire 
cut off in the midst of festivi- 

' Quite well at ten, 

Had a few friends to sup with me ; 
Taken ill at twelve, 

And at one it was ALL UP with me.' 

Also UP. 

may be mentioned : To have 
missed stays (nautical) ; to have 
gone to pot ; to have gone to 
smash ; to have gone to the 

1752. FIELDING, A melia, book XII., 
ch. vi. 'ALL is UP and undone !' cries 

1838. DICKENS, Nicholas Nickleby, 
ch. Ix. A-double 1, all, everything ; a 
cobbler's weapon ; u-p, up, adjective, not 
down ; s-q-u-double e-r-s, Squeers, noun 
substantive, a educator of youth. Total, 
ALL UP with Squeers. 

ALLUS, adv. (vulgar). Always. 

ALL WAG BLUE, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can). A frolicing, rollicking 
time ; a spree ; a kick-up. 


ALMIGHTY, ad/, (common). Mighty; 
great ; exceedingly a superla- 


4 1 Almighty Dollar. 

tive of all work. For example, 
in the ' dialect ' of which this 
word is a component part, an 
over-officious man is put down 
as ' ALMIGHTY fast ' ; or a horse 
with good points as an ' AL- 
MIGHTY fine beast ' ; and so on 
throughout the whole range of 
superlative merit. It ranks with 
4 awful,' ' eternal,' ' everlasting,' 
'lovely,' and a multitude of 
other words, orthodox enough 
when properly handled, but 
which become the purest slang 
when used, as is frequently 
the case, of things finite, and 
even of trifles. So employed, 
ALMIGHTY is generally regarded 
as an Americanism, and is 
credited to our kinsmen across 
the sea, a view supported by 
De Quincey's use of the term. 
If this be so, there is, in truth, 
little at which to wonder. The 
' wild,' the boundless West is 
no unlikely nursery for big, 
high - sounding words ; and 
though one may justly con- 
demn such depravation of our 
mother - tongue, the fact re- 
mains. Thus, amongst the 
untutored backwoodsmen and 
rough pioneers of the West a 
week is an ' eternal ' time ; a 
good officer is an ALMIGHTY 
general ; and a spell of rain is 
spoken of as an ' everlasting ' 
deluge. The foregoing examples 
by no means exhaust the poten- 
tialities of the language; as, 
e.g., when people talk of a man 
playing ALMIGHTY ' smash ' with 
his prospects, meaning that he 
is hopelessly ruining his chances 
of success ; or driving a fellow- 
citizen into a state of ALMIGHTY 
1 shivers ' through ill-treatment ; 
or of a thing lasting till AL- 
MIGHTY ' crack,' i.e., for an inter- 
minable period. 

1824. DE QUINCEY, Works (1871), 
XVI., 261. Such rubbish, such AL- 
MIGHTY nonsense (to speak transatlan- 
tice) no eye has ever beheld. 

1833. MARRYAT, Peter Simple (1863), 
328. An ALMIGHTY pretty French pri- 
vateer lying in St. Pierre's. 

1888. New York Mercury, July 21. 
'This is a rum world,' said the driver, 
with a chuckle, as he drove up the 
street. 'And of all places in it New 
York is the rummest. And hack-drivin' 
is the rummest business, leadin' one 
into the rummest secrets. Another pas- 
senger to the " Rookery." I wonder 
whether the other boys gits as many 
customers to that place as Luke Hyatt ? 
If they do it must be ALMIGHTY full 

In another place De Quincey 
speaks of a man who cannot 
live and cannot die as being ' in 
an ALMIGHTY fix,' and the ex- 
pression is otherwise frequently 
used by him. Captain Marryat 
likewise constantly employs it ; 
in fact, the phrase was well 
' acclimatised ' on this side of 
the Atlantic long prior to the 
publication of My Novel [1853] , 
and Prof. Barrere, in attributing 
its popularisation ' in a cer- 
tain measure ' to Lord Lytton, 
failed to render due credit, if 
any, either to De Quincey or 

ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, subs. (American). 
The power of money ; Mam- 
mon regarded as an embodi- 
ment of the worship of, and 
the quest for gold. This phrase 
is, in reality, an old friend with 
a new face, for Ben Jonson 
used the term in its modern 
sense when speaking of the 
power of money. Its modern 
application to dollars is trace- 
able to Washington Irving, who 
made use of it in a charming 
little sketch, entitled A Creole 




15741637. BEN JONSON, Epistle to 
Elizabeth, Countess of Rutland. 
Whilst that for which all virtue now is 

And almost every vice, ALMIGHTIE gold. 

fert's Roost : A Creole Village, p. 40. 
The ALMIGHTY DOLLAR, that great 
object of universal devotion throughput 
our land, seems to have no genuine 
devotee in these peculiar villages. 

1876. BESANT AND RICE, Golden 
Butterfly, ch. xxii. ' Genius, gentlemen, 
is apt to be careless of the main chance. 
It don't care for the ALMIGHTY DOLLAR ; 
it lets fellows like me heap up the 

1886. G. SUTHERLAND, Australia, 
p. 102. The travelling Yankee, with an 
overwearing confidence in the ALMIGHTY 

ALOFT. To GO ALOFT, verb. phr. 
(common). To die; the figure 
of speech presented here is 
nautical in origin. 

1790. C. DIBDIN, Sea Songs: Tom Bowling, 
Here a sheer hulk, lies poor Tom 

The darling of our crew ; [Bowling, 
No more he'll hear the tempest howling, 

For death has broached him to. 
His form was of the manliest beauty, 

His heart was kind and soft ; 
Faithful below, Tom did his duty, 

And now he's GONE ALOFT. 

Few expressions synonymous 
with the act of dying equal 
this in force or pathos ; and it 
is rarely, moreover, that slang 
climbs on the wings of hope 
into a purer atmosphere than 
that of the vices and follies of 
men with which it is mainly 
concerned. By no means few in 
number, nor wanting in senten- 
tiousness and dramatic mean- 
ing are the phrases employed 
in the vulgar tongue to signify 
the greatest of all human ex- 

kick the bucket ; to hop the 
twig ; to go to Davy Jones' 
locker (nautical) ; to be put to 
bed with a shovel ; to take an 

earth bath ; to croak ; to take a 
ground sweat ; to go under 
(American : the visible disposal 
of the body furnishing a simile 
for the process of death) ; to go 
up (compare with foregoing : 
when the victim of lynch law 
is enquired after the questioner 
is told that he has 'gone up,' 
i.e., been hanged) ; to lose the 
number of one's mess (a sailor's 
phrase) ; to snuff it (from snuff- 
ing a candle) ; to lay down 
one's knife and fork ; to stick 
one's spoon in the wall ; to give 
in ; to give up ; to peg out ; to 
slip one's cable (this, like ' to 
go to Davy Jones' locker,' is of 
nautical origin) ; to pass in 
one's checks (a euphemism 
drawn from the game of poker, 
the simile being that of settling 
one's earthly accounts and the 
paying in to the banker of the 
dues at the end of the game) ; 
Kickeraboo (West Indian : a 
corruption of ' to kick the 

FRENCH. Passer Vavme a 
gauche (popular : ' to lay down 
one's arms ' ) ; casser sa pipe (lit. 
' to break one's pipe ') ; dcvisser or 
decoller son billard (lit. ' to break 
one's cue ') ;graisser ses bottes (lit. 
' to grease one's boots ' ) ; avaler 
sa langue (lit. ' to swallow one's 
tongue'); avaler sa gaffe ('to lower 
one's boat-hook ' ) ; avaler sa 
cuiller (lit. ' to lay down one's 
spoon ' ) ; avaler ses baguettes 
(military: lit. 'to lay aside one's 
drum-sticks ' ) ; n'avoir plus mal 
aux dents (lit. ' to have toothache 
no more.' In Fr. Argot mal de 
dents is also synonymous with 
love) ; poser sa chique (popular: 
lit. ' to lay down one's finish, 
elegance, dash, spirit ' in short 
all that is distinctive in a man) ; 
claquer (familiar : lit. ' to chatter 




with cold ' or ' fear ' ) ; saltier le 
public(thea.t.: lit. ' to make one's 
bow ' to make one's last ap- 
pearance on this world's stage, 
and one's first in that land 
where ' the dead are many, 
and the living few ' ) ; recevoir 
son dccompte (military : lit. ' to 
receive deferred pay ' ; dccompte 
is also military slang for a 
' mortal wound' ) ; cracker ses 
embouchtires (an expression of 
musical origin : the figure is 
obviously that of losing the 
power to perform on wind 
instruments ' ) ; dcteindre (popu- 
lar : lit. ' to wash off the colour' 
or ' dye.' Is this a play upon 
words, or an allusion to death 
as the great revealer of man as 
he is ?) ; donner son dernier bon a 
tirer (familiar : equivalent to the 
American, ' to pass in one's 
checks.' French printers under- 
stand by this phrase ' to send 
the last proofs to press ' ) ; lacker 
la perche (popular : lit. ' to slip 
off one's perch ' ) ; eteindre son 
gaz (popular : ' to turn off the 
gas.' C/.,' to snuff it ' ) ; {pointer 
son for et (popular : lit. ' to break 
off the point of the drill,' as 
in boring) ; etre expropric (popu- 
lar : lit. ' to be dispossessed ' ; 
exproprier is a judical term signi- 
fying ' to take possession of the 
landed property of a debtor ' ) ; 
peter son lof (sailors') ; fumer ses 
terres ; fermer son parapluie (popu- 
lar : ' to close one's umbrella ' ) ; 
perdre son baton (popular : ' to 
lose one's walking stick ') ; des- 
cendre la garde (popular : ' to come 
off guard ' ) ; defiler la parade 
(military : ' to file off parade ' ; 
equivalent to the English ' to 
lose the number of one's mess ') ; 
tourner de Vceil (popular : is 
there not here an allusion to 
the phenomenon attendant on 

genuine sleep ; feigned sleep 
can always be detected by 
turning up the eyelids of the 
sleeper, if sleep be genuine 
only the ' whites ' of the eyes 
will be discoverable) ; perdre lc 
gout du pain (popular : ' to lose 
one's taste for bread ' ) ; lacker la 
rampc (theatrical : ' to lose sight 
of the footlights ' ) ; faire ses 
petits paqnets (popular : ' to pack 
up one's [small] traps'); casser 
son crachoir (popular : lit. ' to 
break one's spittoon ' or mouth) ; 
remercier son boulanger (thieves' : 
lit. 'to thank the baker.' It 
must be explained that boulanger 
baker is a French nickname 
for the devil) ; canner ; divider a 
Vestorgue (thieves') ; baiser la 
camarde (popular: 'to salute,' 
or ' kiss Death ' ; camarde is a 
popular euphemism for the 
' Messenger of Life ' ) ; camar- 
der (popular : see previous 
example) ; fuir (thieves' : lit. 
'to fly ' or ' escape ' from 
justice or capture) ; casser 
son cable (popular : ' to slip 
the cable ' evidently a simile 
drawn from the sea) ; casser son 
fouet (popular : ' to break ' or 
' lay aside one's whip ') ; faire sa 
crevaison (popular : crever, ' to 
kill ' or ' die ' is usually only 
employed in speaking of ani- 
mals) ; dcralinguer (sailors' : pro- 
perly ' to detach from the bolt 
rope ') ; virer de bord (sailors' : 
lit. ' to tack about ' ) ; dechirer 
son faux -col (popular: verbatim, 
' to burst open one's collar ' 
the allusion is obvious) ; se 
degeler (in good French, ' to 
thaw ') ; couper sa meche (coach- 
man's : ' to throw down the 
whip ') ; piquer sa plaque (sailors'); 
mettre la table pour les asticots 
(popular : properly ' to lay the 
table [become food] for worms'); 

A lone. 



aller manger Us pissenlits par la 
ratine (popular : to go and feed 
off dandelion roots ' observe, 
by the way, that pissenlit is an 
exact equivalent for one of the 
English field names of the dan- 
delion, viz., ' piddle-the-bed ' ) ; 
laisser fuir son tonneau (familiar : 
lit. ' to let fly ' or ' kick away 
the cask.' C/. f ' to kick the 
bucket ') ; calancher (vagrants') ; 
laisser ses bottes quelque part 
(familiar : lit. ' to leave one's 
boots somewhere ' ) ; dechirer son 
habit (popular : properly ' to 
rend ' or ' cast aside one's 
coat ' ) ; dechirer son tablier (popu- 
lar : in literary French this 
means, ' to throw aside or 
destroy one's apron'); souffler 
sa veilleuse (popular : meaning 
lit. ' to blow out one's night- 
lamp ' or ' floating wick.' Com- 
pare with ' to snuff it ' or ' to 
put out one's light ' in English 
slang) ; pousser le bourn de cygne 
(popular) ; avoir son coke (fami- 
liar) ; prendre sa secousse (popu- 
lar : i.e., ' to take one's blow ' or 
' shock') ; rendresabuche (tailors': 
the allusion is an obvious 
one) ; rendre sa canne au ministre 
(military : lit. ' to resign one's 
commission to the Minister 
[of War] ; rendre sa clef (gypsy : 
lit. ' to give up the key') ; rendre 
son livret (popular : lit. ' to throw 
up one's cards '). 


sire (lit. ' to faint away ') ; sbasire 
su le funi (lit. 'to faint away on 
the rope'). 

ALONE, adv. (old). In the flash 
vocabulary of the time of Pierce 
Egan's Tom and Jerry [circa 
1800-1825], only an experienced 
man of the world could be 

allowed to go ALONE. Such a 
one was said to be FLY ; UP TO 
SNUFF (q.v.), etc. 

ALONG OF, adv. (vulgar). A dialec- 
tical form for on account of ; 
owing to ; pertaining, or belong- 
ing to. Formerly ALONG ON, 
and it so appeared as early as 
A.D. 880 : ALONG OF was used by 
Chaucer, but it is now mainly 
confined to the illiterate or 

1369. CHAUCER, Troylus ii., 1001. On 
me is not ALONG thin evil fare. 

1581. W. STAFFORD, Exam, of Com- 
plaints, p. 16 (New Shaks. Soc. : Ed.). 
Complaining of general poverty, he says : 
' Whereof it is LONGE, I cannot well tell. 1 

1601. HOLLAND, Pliny, p. 25, quoted 
in Morris' Elem. Hist. Eng. Gram., p. 
198. And that is LONG OF contrarie 

1858. DICKENS, Xmas. Stories (going 
into Society), p. 65 (II. ed.). Would he 
object to say why he left it ? Not at all ; 
why should he ? He left it ALONG OF a 

1881. W BLACK, Beautiful Wretch, 
ch. xviii. ' Mayhap the concert didn't 
come off, ALONG OF the snow.' 


subs, (old slang). i. Whitefriars, 
once a place privileged from 
arrests for debt, as was also 
Mint in Southwark. Both were 
suppressed, in 1697, on account 
of the notorious abuses com- 
mitted there. A charter of 
liberties and privileges had been 
granted, in 1608, by King 
James I. to the inhabitants of 
this district, and it speedily 
became the haunt of insolvent 
debtors, cheats, and gamesters, 
who conferred upon it the jocu- 
lar cant name of ALSATIA, a 
Latinised form of Alsace, a 
province which had long enjoyed 


45 Altamel, Altemal. 

the reputation of a ' debateable 


1688. SuA.D\VELL,Sq. of Alsatia I., in 
wks. (1720), IV., 25. Who are these? 
Some inhabitants of White-fryers; 
some bullies of ALSATIA. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. xvi. Whitefriars, adjacent to the 
Temple, then well known by the cant 
name of ALSATIA. 

2. Hence any rendezvous or 
asylum for loose characters and 
criminals, where immunity from 
arrest is tolerably certain ; a 
haunt of thieves, and the crimi- 
nal classes ; a low quarter. 

1787. GROSE, Prov. Glossary, etc. 
(1811), p. 82. A 'squire of ALSATIA. A 
spendthrift or sharper, inhabiting places 
formerly privileged from arrests. 

1861. Miss BRADDON, Trail of the 
Serpent, bk. II., ch. i. So Blind Peter was 
the ALSATIA of Slopperton, a refuge for 
crime and destitution. 

1876. LORD JUSTICE JAMES, in ex 
parte Saffery re. Cooke, Law Times, 35, 
p. 718. The Stock Exchange is not an 
ALSATIA; the Queen's laws are paramount 
there, and the Queen's writ runs even 
into the sa red precincts of Capel-Court. 

ALSATIAN, subs. (oldl. A rogue, or 
debauchee, such as haunted 
Alsatia or Whitefriars. 

1691. LUTTRELL, Brief Rel. (1857), 
II., 259. The benchers of the Inner 
Temple having given orders for bricking 
up their little gate leading into White- 
fryers the ALSATIANS came and 

pulled it down. 

c. 1700. Gentleman Instructed, p. 491 
[10 ed., 1732]. He spurr'd to London, 
and left a thousand curses behind him. 
Here he struck up with sharpers, 
scourers, and ALSATIANS. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. xvii. ' You shall sink a nobleman 
in the Temple Gardens, and rise an 
ALSATIAN at Whitefriars.' 

Adj. Pertaining to Alsatia; 
roguish ; debauched. 

1688. SHADWELL, Sq. of Alsatia I. 
in wks. (1720), IV., 27. He came out of 
White Fryers : he's some ALSATIAN 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. xvii. An extravagantly long rapier 
and poinard marked the true ALSATIAN 

1882. BESANT, All Sorts and Con- 
ditions of Men, ch. vii. The road has 
come to be regarded with admiration as 
one of those ALSATIAN retreats, growing 
every day rarer, which are beyond and 
above the law. 

ALSATIA PHRASE, subs. (old). A 
slang or cant term, such as was 
used by Alsatians ; or, now-a- 
days, by thieves and vagrants. 

1704. SWIFT, Tale of a Tub. Apology 
for author. The second instance to 
shew the author's wit is not his own, is 
Peter's banter (as he calls it in his 
ALSATIA PHRASE) upon transubstantia- 

Synonymous terms were 
GREEK, etc. 

ALTAMEL, ALTEMAL, subs., adj., adv., 
and intj. (American thieves'). 

Adv. All together, as 'Let's 
anchor ALTEMAL,' i.e., ' Let us 
come to a stop altogether.' 

Subs. The sum total of a 
bill or story. 

Intj. An injunction to ' cut 
it short.' 

ALTEMAL is said to be de- 
rived from the Dutch altemal, 
but Murray has it as ' altu- 
mal ' with a different de- 
rivation. [From L. altum, the 
deep, i.e., the sea -f- AL.] 
Grose leans to the former and 
synonymous ; from a verbal 
account without particulars, 
such as was given in brothels 
and sponging houses accounts 
which allowed of no sort of 
verification. C/., FLEMISH 
ACCOUNT and remarks under 

1711. Medleys, 29 Jan. (1712), 186. 
His ALTUMAL cant, a mark of his poor 
Traffick and Tar-Education. 

1758. CHAMBERS, Cycl. Supp. ALTU- 
MAL, a term used to denote the mercan- 
tile style, or dialect. In this sense, we 

Altering Jeff's Click. 46 

A mbidexter. 

meet with ALTUMAL cant, to denote the 
language of petty traders and tars. 


ALTHAM, subs, (old cant). A wife ; 
mistress. See quotation. 

1560. JOHN AWDELEY, Fraternity e 
of Vacabondes (1869. English Dialect 
Society's Reprint), p. 4. A curtail is 
much like to the Vpright man, but hys 
authority is not fully so great. He 
vseth commonly to go with a short 
cloke, like to grey Friers, and his woman 
with him in like liuery, which he calleth 
his ALTHAM if she be hys. 

phr. (old). In an elevated 
mood, chiefly from liquor ; 
putting on airs and graces ; 
using lofty phrases ; in a state 
of excitement ; and, in a special 
slang sense, drunk. The phrase 
has been incorrectly given as 
'out of his ALTITUDES.' The 
first trace of it is to be found 
in Beaumont and Fletcher's 
Laws of Candy, II. [1616] . 

1630. JONSON, New Inn, I. I have 
talked somewhat above my share, at 
large, and been IN THE ALTITUDES, the 

1668. DRYDEN, An Evening's Love, 
Act iii. If we men could but learn to 
value ourselves, we should soon take 
down our mistresses from all their 
ALTITUDES, and make them dance after 
our pipes. 

1705. VANBRUGH, Confederacy, Act 
v. Clar. ' Who makes thee cry out 
thus, poor Brass ? ' Brass. ' Why, your 
husband, madam; he's IN HIS ALTI- 
TUDES here. 

1785. FRANCIS GROSE, Dictionary 
of the Vulgar Tongue. The man is IN 
HIS ALTITUDES, i.e., he is drunk. 

ALTOCAD, subs. (Win. Coll.). A 
somewhat venerable paid mem- 
ber of the choir who takes 



AMBASSADOR, snbs. (nautical). 
A sailor's practical joke upon 
' green ' hands, similar to the 
festivities formerly universally 
observed when ' crossing the 
line.' These tricks have been 
common to sailors of every 
nation. AMBASSADOR was thus 
managed : A large tub was 
filled with water, two stools 
being placed on either side of 
it ; over the whole was thrown a 
tarpaulin or old sail, kept tight 
by two persons, who represented 
the king and queen of a foreign 
country, and who were seated 
on the stools. To the victim 
was allotted the part of AMBAS- 
SADOR, who, after repeating 
a ridiculous speech dictated to 
him, was led in great state up 
to the throne, and seated be- 
tween the king and queen. They 
rising suddenly, as soon as the 
unsuspecting victim was seated, 
caused him to fall backward into 
the tub of water. 

(familiar). A commercial tra- 
veller; a BAGMAN (q.v.}. 

AMBIA, subs. (American). A 
euphemism for the juice of 
tobacco, as expectorated after 
chewing. Most frequently heard 
in the Southern and Western 
States. Apparently a corrup- 
tion of ' amber ' (indeed it is 
commonly spelt and pronounced 
ambeer) presumably from a 
similarity in colour between 
expectorated tobacco saliva 
and the mineralised resinous 

AMBIDEXTER, "also in lyth century, 
AMBODEXTER, subs, and adj. (old 


47 American Shoulders. 

slang). [From ambo, both + 
dexter, the right hand, i.e., the 
faculty of using both hands as 
right hands, or equally well.] 
Applied first in a slang sense to 
a lawyer taking fees or bribes 
from both plaintiff and defend- 
ant, AMBIDEXTER gradually be- 
came identified with double- 
dealing of all kinds. 

1532. Use of Dice Play (1850), 17. 
Any affinity with our men of law ? 
Never with those that be honest. 
Marry ! with such as be AMBIDEXTERS, 
and used to play in both the hands. [M.] 

1555. RIDLEY, Works, 27. They 
may be called neutrals, AMBIDEXTERS, 
or rather such as can shift on both sides. 


1691. BLOUNT, Law Dictionary. 
AMBIDEXTER .... That Juror or Em- 
braceor who takes Money on both sides, 
for giving his Verdict. 

1703. DE FOE,' Ref. Manners, 93. 
Those AMBODEXTERS in Religion, who 
Can any thing dispute, yet any thing can 

1864. SIR F. PALGRAVE, Norman 
and Eng. III., 278. An AMBIDEXTER, 
owing fealty to both Counts, and not 
faithful to either. 

AMBUSH, subs. (American thieves'). 
Fraudulent weights and mea- 
sures. A punning allusion to 
the accepted meaning of the 
word to lie in wait (lying 
weight). In juxtaposition to 
this may be placed the Four- 
besque (Italian thieves' argot) ; 
giusta, a pair of scales, a 
balance, which in Italian liter- 
ally means ' correct.' Cf., 
French thieves' argot, juste (an 
abbreviation of justice) , for the 
assizes ; also the Spanish Ger- 
msima. justia , in a similar sense, 
the last-named being a shorten- 
ed form of the Spanish justicia. 

AMEN CURLER, subs, (old slang). 
The name formerly given to 
a parish clerk. In the army 

the chaplain's clerk is called an 


AMENER, subs. (old). A nickname 
given to one who agrees to 
everything said or done. [From 
that sense of AMEN = to ratify 
solemnly + ER.] 

AMEN-SNORTER, subs. (Australian). 
A parson ; from which it will 
be observed that the fifth conti- 
nent is evolving words and 
phrases as peculiar to itself as 
America has already done. For 
synonyms, see DEVIL DODGER. 

1888. Bulletin, Nov. 24. In Maori- 
land it is impossible to swing any kind 
of cat without smiting some variety of 
AMEN-SNORTER. Still the saints are not 
happy. They have just held at Welling- 
ton a ' United Ker-nstian Conference' to 
ruminate on the sinfulness of things and 
the scarcity of the unsanctified three- 

penny. A Rev. vessel, one Potter, opined 

gre quantity and infer 
quality of family devotion accounted for 

the depleted condition of the ' treasury 
of the Loard,' and suggested that steps 
should be taken ' to find out what families 
omit this important duty.' Since which 
all the dead-beats and suspected hen- 
snatchers plead when before the Binch 
that they were ' only mouching round to 
find out whether the family neglected its 
religious dooties, yer washup.' 

AMEN WALLAH, subs, (military). A 
chaplain's clerk ; the allusion is 
sufficiently obvious. ' Wallah ' 
is Hindustani for ' man ' or per- 
son. Cf., the old English slang, 


AMERACE. adv. (American thieves'). 
Jargon signifying near at 
hand ; within call. 

lors'). A particular 'cut,' in 
which the shoulders of a coat 
are so shaped as to give the 
wearer a broad and burly ap- 
pearance. This is usually done 

A mevican Tweezers. 

A mpntaie. 

where a man's shoulders are of 
the CHAMPAGNE (q.v.) order, i.e., 
like the neck of a wine bottle, 
with nothing upon which the 
garment in question can be 

AM ER i cANTwEEZERs.sttfo. (thieves'). 
An ingenious instrument of 
American invention, by means 
of which it is possible to turn a 
key in a door and unlock it from 
the outside. 

ACE. WITHIN AMES ACE, snbs.phr- 
(old). i. Nearly; very near; 
AMBS-ACE was the double ace, 
the lowest throw at dice. Hence 

2. Bad luck; misfortune. 
The expression, according to 
Murray, dates back to A.D. 

AMINIDAB, subs. (old). A jeering 
name for a Quaker. Grose. 

AMMUNITION, subs, (common). 
Paper for use at the cabinet 
d'aisance. Also called CURL 
PAPERS (q.v.). 

AMMUNITION LEG, subs, (military). 
A wooden leg. From the 
attributive use of ' ammunition ' 
as applied to stores supplied to 
soldiers for equipment or rations . 
To show the length to which 
this application of the word 
has been carried, it may be 
noted that Robertson, in 1693, 
speaks of ' an ammunition 
whore.' scortum castrense. 

AMORT, adv. and pred. adj. (old). 
Usually ALL AMORT, an antithe- 
tical phrase to ALL ALIVE (q.v.), 
and meaning half dead ; in a 
state of stupor ; without spirit ; 

sometimes used as a synonym 


of which see. A-la-mort, from the 
French, is regarded as the ori- 
ginal form, though it is doubtful 
which took precedence in liter- 
ary English. At one time both 
forms were quite naturalised ; 
they are now of interest as 
affording an instance of words, 
gradually lapsing into slang or 
vulgar usage, and then coming 
to be regarded as Anglo-French 
phrases. American thieves still 
retain them, to signify struck 
dumb, or confounded ; in these 
senses they are given by Grose 
in his Dictionary of the Vulgar 
Tongue [1787] , which would 
seem to show they had already 
commenced their downward 

AMPERSAND, subs, (familiar). The 
breech; or posteriors. ' [From 
Eng. AND + Latin per se, by 
itself, + Eng. AND ; literally, 
' and by itself and ' used to 
distinguish the character ' &,' 
which in old nursery books 
came at the end of the alphabet. 
Hence, employed to signify the 
hinder parts.] The word in its 
slang sense is quite a recent 
introduction, said to be of 
American origin. For sy- 
nonyms, see BLIND CHEEKS. 

MAHOGANY or TIMBER (familiar). 
To be off; to begone the 
idea being that of quick or vio- 
lent motion, often, though not 
always, the result of moral or 
physical force. [Probably from 
that sense of AMPUTATE equiva- 
lent to 'cut off' or 'away.' 
Cf., ' cut,' a slang synonym.] A 
welcher is called a TIMBER- 
MERCHANT, because he removes 

A mputatc. 



himself, or ' cuts his stick ' with 
celerity as occasion requires. 
Both the English and French 
have many synonymous words 
and phrases to express the same 
idea. Among the more popular 
may be mentioned : 

skedaddle (an American term) ; 
to cut one's lucky ; to sling, or 
take one's hook ; to mizzle ; to 
absquatulate ; to pad the hoof ; 
to give leg bail ; to bolt ; to cut 
and run ; to chivey ; to walk 
the trotters ; to slip one's cable ; 
to step it ; to leg it ; to tip the 
double ; to make, or take tracks ; 
to hook it ; to make beef (thieves' 
term) ; to slope ; to cut the 
cable and run before the wind 
(obviously a sailor's phrase) ; 
to slip it ; to abskize ; to paddle ; 
to guy (used by thieves) ; to 
evaporate ; to vamoose (Ameri- 
can, from the Spanish impera- 
tive vamos, let us go) ; to specie 
(used by thieves) ; to skip ; to 
tip one's rags a gallop ; to walk 
one's chalks ; to pike ; to hop 
the twig ; to turn it up ; to cap 
one's lucky (a phrase mainly 
confined to American thieves) ; 
to crush ; to cut dirt ; to bunk ; 
to pike it ; to stir one's stumps. 

FRENCH. Faire or jouer la 
fille de I'air (lit. ' to go like the 
wind,' Jill 'e de I' air, daughter of 
air, being a poetical embodi- 
ment) ; faire le Uzard (a thief's 
term, and meaning properly ' to 
imitate a lizard,' an allusion to 
swiftness of motion) ; faire le 
iat-jat ; faire la paire (lit. ' to go 
double,' Cf., ' to tip the double ') ; 
faire gille (a very old French 
phrase ; it means also to become 
bankrupt. The connection be- 
tween bankruptcy and decamp- 
ing is obvious) ; se dcguiser en cerf 

(popular : lit. ' to play the stag ') ; 
s'tvanouir (popular: lit. 'to van- 
ish ' or ' fade away ') ; se cramper 
or tirer sa crampe (cramper is a 
popular term for rapid flight, 
and contains an allusion to the 
cramp or nervous contraction 
sometimes caused by violent 
motion. Old French had the 
verb crampir in the sense of 
1 to bend ' or ' double up.' Tirer 
sa crampe is lit.' to get cramped '); 
se lacker du ballon (popular : ' to 
let loose the balloon,' an allu- 
sion to the rapidity with which 
a balloon shoots up into the 
air when set free) ; se la couler 
(exactly equivalent to the Eng- 
lish slang ' to slip it ') ; sedonner 
del air (popular: Cf., faire la file 
de I' air] ; sepousscrdu zepli (popu- 
lar : properly ' to push forward 
with the wind.' Zeph is a con- 
traction of zephir) ; se sylphider 
(popular : fromsylphidt, a sylph ; 
a reference to what in English 
racing terminology would be 
termed the 'light-weight' char- 
acter of such creatures enabling 
them to get over the ground 
quickly) ; se faire la debinette ; jouer 
des fonrchettes (popular : ' to put 
one's forks into play ') ; fonrchettes 
(in French argot = legs or ' pins') ; 
se la donner (Michel says la here 
refers to 'la clef des champs,' an 
expression synonymous with 
1 liberty ' or ' freedom ') ; se la 
briser (popular) ; ramasser un 
bidon (thieves') ; se la casser 
(popular) ; se la tirer ; tirer ses 
granches ; valser (lit. to dance) ; 
se tirer les pincettes (popular : lit. 
'to pull along 1 or to extricate 
'one's tongs ' or ' nippers.' Cf., 
English ' nip along ') ; se tirer 
les baladoires ; se tirer les pattes 
(lit. ' to move one's paws ') ; se 
tirer les trimoires (thieves' : tri- 
moires is a cant term for legs, 

A mputate. 

A mputate. 

and trimer signifies painful pro- 
gression, or doing most of a 
journey on foot) ; se tirer les 
fifties (popular : les flutes = 
' shanks ' or ' pegs ') ; jouer des 
guibes (gtiibe is a popular term 
for the leg, chiefly employed in 
burlesque) ; jouer des quilles (this 
expression is very old. Quilles 
properly signifies 'crutches,' 
and is popularly employed for 
the legs) ; se carapater (lit. ' to 
run on one's paws. C/., ' to take 
to one's heels ') ; se barrer (lit. 
' to dash over ') ; baudrouiller 
(thieves' : this has the significa- 
tion of ' to whip up ') ; se cava- 
ler (thieves' : cavaler was once 
synonymous with chevaucher ; 
therefore, se cavaler signifies in 
reality, ' to go on horseback on 
oneself,' in which connection it 
may be compared with ' shanks' 
mare,' the ' marrow-bone stage ' 
[the Marylebone stage] , or 
the German Schnhster's Rap- 
pen, the shoemaker's black 
horses, i. e., the shoes. Se cavaler 
likewise has reference to run- 
ning away with the tail between 
the legs when fright has seized 
hold of an animal, and as em- 
ployed by thieves conveys the 
idea of cowardice as well as that 
of locomotion) ; faire une cavale 
or se payer une cavale (popular : 
C/., se cavaler); jouer des or 
se tirer les paturons (popular 
and thieves' : this may be 
translated ' to pad the hoof.' 
Paturons is properly the ' pas- 
terns. 1 The frequent use of 
se tirer in connection with the 
idea of moving from place to 
place with a celerity which is 
oftentimes accentuated by a 
fear of arrest or unwelcome 
obstruction is extremely fitting. 
Se tirer means literally to extri- 
cate onself ; to get through ; to 

pull oneself forward extra 
endeavour resulting in rapid 
progression) ; happer le taillis 
(thieves' : lit. ' to catch, lay 
hold of or ' gain the copse ' ; 
i.e., a place of concealment); 
flasqucr du poivre a qiielqu'un or la 
rousse (thieves': C/., AMUSE; 'to 
fly from the police '; lit. to shake 
the pepper box in the eyes of 
the police ; rousse is a cant 
term for a guardian of the 
peace) ; decaniller (thieves' : this 
word, derived from canille, 
a French provincialism for 
chenille, a caterpillar, is an 
allusion to the metamorpho- 
sis of the grub into a butterfly 
when it takes unto itself wings); 
decarrer (thieves' : to leave prison; 
decarrer de belle, to be released 
from prison without having 
been tried) ; exhiber son prus- 
sien (popular : prussien is a com- 
mon colloquialism for the pos- 
teriors, and the phrase literally 
means ' to show one's behind,' 
or ' turn tail.' It may be worth 
while remarking that the term 
prussien as applied to the breech 
is no vulgar expression of con- 
tempt towards the Prussians. 
The word is derived, says 
Michel, from the gypsy prusia- 
tini, which Borrow translates 
by pistol. Formerly the French 
called ' the behind ' by the name 
of a Parisian church, Saint-Jean 
le Rond] ; demurger (thieves' : to 
leave a place ; to be set at 
liberty) ; desarrer (thieves' : ' to 
guy ' ; to make beef) ; gagner 
les gigoteaux (also gagner au trot t 
aupied, gagner le camp, la colline, 
le taillis, la gucrite, etc.) ; se faire 
une pair e de mains courantes a la 
mode (thieves'); fendre I' ergot (lit. 
' to split the spur,' an allusion to 
the toes being pressed to the 
ground, and thus naturally 

A input ate. 


parted) ; filer son nceud, or son 
cable (sailors' and popular: lit. 
' to cut the ropes ' or ' cable ' ) ; 
se dcfiler (popular, but derived 
from the military term, signi- 
fying to go off parade : might 
be translated ' to leg it ' ) ; s'ccar- 
bouiller (popular : properly ' to 
crush ' ; compare with the 
English synonym ' crush ' ) ; 
esballonner (popular) ; filer son 
cable pay le bout (sailors') ; fairs 
chibis (thieves' : ' to escape from 
prison ' ) ; dcraper (common) ; 
fouintr (popular: this is, in 
reality, no more slang than the 
English ' to sneak away ' ) ; se 
la fracturer (popular : properly 
a surgical term, meaning 'to 
fracture ' ) ; jouer des gambettes 
(popular : may be translated ' to 
leg it ' ; 'to stir one's stumps ' ; 
gambettes is from the old French 
gambe, a leg) ; s'esbjgner (popular : 
properly ' to give the slip ' ) ; 
ramoner ses tuyaux (popular : lit. 
1 to sweep one's chimney ' ; ramo- 
ner, in its primary cant signifi- 
cation of ' to mutter ' or ' to 
mumble,' is an allusion to the 
rumbling noise produced by 
sweeping a chimney. Se faire 
ramoner is ' to go to confession, 1 
or ' to take a purgative ' the 
one a moral, and the other a 
physical cleansing. Hence ra- 
moner ses tuyaux, ' to run away,' 
in reference to the speedy loco- 
motion consequent upon the 
process of purging) ; foutre h 
camp (popular : equivalent to 
' hook it ' ; a coarse expression) ; 
tirer le chausson (popular) ; se 
vanner (thieves : Michel derives 
this from the Italian vannare, 
' to flap the wings,' but another 
authority refers it to the motions 
of the body and arms of a win- 
nower ; the word in literary 
French signifying ' to sift ' or 

' to winnow.' Others trace it 
to the old French vanoyer, ' to 
disappear.' In all cases, how- 
ever, it would seem to be equiva- 
lent to the English ' come shake 
yourself! be off!'); ambier 
(thieves') ; chier du poivre (popu- 
lar : 'to abscond/ or 'to fail 
to be at hand when needed ') ; 
se dcbiner, or se debiner des fu- 
merons (popular : ' to stir one's 
stumps ' ) ; caleter (popular) ; at- 
tacher une gamelle (popular and 
thieves') ; camper (low) ; off nter ses 
pincettes (thieves' : lit. ' to sharp- 
en the pins ' or ' to leg it ' ) ; and 
many others. 

sclien (from paschen, ' to smug- 
gle ' ) ; abbanen (literally ' to re- 
move, or finish ' [a building] ) ; 
abfocken ; abhalchen (from He- 
brew holach, ' to go ') ; schefften ; 
abschmirren (a beggar-musicians' 
term ; also to beg through a 
lane, town, or district. [M.H.G., 
snurren, schnurren, schnurrant\ ) ; 
abtarchenen ; abtippeln (to run 
away secretly ) ; alchen (from 
Hebrew holach, 'to go ' ) ; asch- 
ween (Hanoverian: according to 
Thiele hascheweine probably 
corrupted from schuw; heschiw, 
1 to turn round ' ) ; bldttern (cor- 
rupted from plettern Hebrew 
pleto ) ; caball (from Latin ca- 
ballus, ' a horse ' ; hence, to fly 
quickly as if on horseback) ; 
dippeln (a Viennese thieves' term) 
fucken orfocken. 

nare or svignare (these words 
though given as cant by the 
author of the Nuovo Modo are 
now received words) ; comprare 
(lit. ' to buy ') ; comprar viole ; 
allungare il muvo (lit. 'to lengthen 
the wall ') ; balzare (lit. ' to caper,' 
1 to skip,' ' to bounce') ; batter 

A muse. 

5 2 A nd Don't Forget It. 

la calcosa (lit. ' to beat the earth.' 
C/., American ' to cut dirt ') ; 
dare a I at a; sco scare. 

(an old and now obsolete term) ; 
alar ; alarse ; alolargo (lit. ' at 
large ') ; picar (lit. ' to use the 
spurs') ; safarse (lit. ' to escape ' 
or ' save oneself ' [from arrest] ). 

AMUSE, verb, (old cant). To fling 
dust or snuff in the eyes of a 
person intended to be robbed. 
Also, to invent some plausible 
tale, to delude shop-keepers and 
others, thereby to put them off 
their guard, and so to obtain an 
opportunity of robbing them. 

AM USERS, subs, (old cant and Ame- 
rican thieves'). A certain class 
of thieves' accomplices who 
throw snuff, pepper, and other 
noxious substances in the eyes 
of the person they intend to rob, 
a confederate then, while appa- 
rently coming to the rescue, com- 
pleting the operation. In this, 
as in much of the slang of the 
criminal classes, there runs a 
vein of brutal cynicism. Though 
obsolete in England the term 
survives in America amongst 
the criminal classes. 

ANABAPTIST, subs, (old slang). A 
pickpocket caught in the act, 
and punished with the discipline 
of the pump or horse-pond. " 

verb. phr. (nautical and com- 
mon). To stop ; to sit down ; 
to rest. [From the operation 
of bringing ships to a standstill 
by casting anchor.] 

ANCHORAGE, subs, (common). An 

abode ; where one dwells. Of 
nautical origin (see ANCHOR). 
For synonyms, see DIGGINGS. 

Oxford). A term applied to 
rowing dons. 

(American). A senseless string 
of words employed indiscrim- 
inately in season and out of 
season. Like ' Who's your 
hatter ?' ' How's your poor 
feet?' 'Not for Joe!' 'Does 
your mother know you're out? 1 
' What ! again ! so soon? ' and 
many others, which every now 
and then have caught the 
'fancy 1 of the streets of our 
large towns, the phrase under 
consideration has run an almost 
riotous course through the 
large centres of population in 
America. In most cases these 
strings of words convey no 
special idea, and can only be 
described as utterly vulgar, 
without the slightest scintila- 
tion of wit or humour of any 

1888. Boston Weekly Globe, Feb. 29. 
There can be no two opposing opinions 
in that respect. Great capital demands 
dividends. Dividends can be had only 
from a prosperous business. A pros- 
perous business must recognise the law 
of supply and demand, and if the public 
demand dirt the newspapers will furnish 

1888. Detroit Free Press, Oct. 6. 
'Did you see any Quakers in Phila- 
delphia ? was asked of a Detroiter who 
lately returned from that city. 
1 Only one that I was sure of.' 
' Did he ' thee ' and ' thou ' you ? ' 
' He did. He got down off his hack 
and said : ' If thee don't pay me 2 dols 
I'll knock thy blamed head off,' and I 
paid, although I knew the regular fare 
was twelve shillings. You don't want 
to fool with those Quakers any, AND 

And He Didn't. 


A ngclics . 

AND HE DIDN'T, phr. (tailors'). 
A phrase of the ALL MY EYE 
(q.v.) stamp, i.e., 'You tell me 
you have not ; but for all that 
I think you have ' the action 
referred to being generally of a 
discreditable character. 

AND No MOGUE? phr. (tailors'). 
Used in a variety of ways to 
signify doubt and uncertainty. 
It is equivalent to the street 
gamin's ' no kid ? ' when used 
interrogatively, i.e., 'there's 
no mistake, is there ? ' ' Now, 
joking apart ?' Also used as a 
1 set down ' to narrators claim- 
ing descent from Baron Mun- 
chausen, in which case it is 
equivalent to the ' You don't 
say so !' of politer circles ; in 
both cases the spokesman con- 
veys the idea that one's credu- 
lity has been somewhat taxed. 

AND No WHISTLE, /-/Jr. (tailors'). 
A kind of tu quoqnc ; usually 
applied to a man by a listener 
desiring to convey to the 
speaker the idea that no mat- 
ter what others may think to 
the contrary, he [the listener] 
believes that what has been 
said refers to the person 

ANDREW MILLAR, subs, (nautical). 
A curious cant name for a ship 
of war ; sometimes simply 
ANDREW. Its origin is quite 
unknown ; but it has been 
pointed out that Antonio, in the 
Merchant of Venice, speaks of 
one of his vessels as his 
' wealthy ANDREW ' ; and it 
has been conjectured that in 
this case the ship was named 
after the celebrated Admiral 
Andrea Doria, who died in 
1560. But to trace any con- 

nection between this ANDREW, 
however general the use of the 
name may have become, and 
the ANDREW MILLAR of modern 
sailors' slang, would be difficult. 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, Merchant of 
Venice, i., i., 27. 
But I should think of shallows and of 

And see my wealthy ANDREW dock'd 

in sand. 

Among Australian smugglers 
the term still survives for a 
revenue cutter. 

ANGEL or FLYING ANGEL, subs, (com- 
mon). Explained by quotation. 

1880. JAMES GREENWOOD, Seaside 
Insanity in Odd People in Odd Places, p. 
45. It is at this point when the one day 
excursionist, who, as well as his wife, 
has an olive-branch or two with him, 
finds his fortitude suddenly collapse. 
With the youngest but one (his good 
lady, of course, carries the baby) be- 
striding his shoulder, he puts his best 
foot foremost from the beach to the town 
so as to be in good time at the station. 
He is hot and fagged, and his temper is 
not improved by the knowledge that the 
cherub to whom he is giving a 'FLYING 
ANGEL" is smearing his Sunday hat with 
the seaweed with which its little fists are 


ANGELICS, subs. (old). Unmarried 
young ladies. Now ANGELICAS. 

1821. MONCRIEFF, Tom and Jerry, 
p. 5. (Dicks' ed., 1889.) Jerry. You 
think the cut of my clothes rather too 
rustic eh ? Tom. Exactly ; dress is the 
order of the day. A man must have the 
look of a gentleman, if he has nothing 
else. We must assume a style if we 
have it not. This, what do you call it ? 
this cover-me-decently, was all very 
well at Hawthorn Hall, I daresay ; but 
here, among the pinks in Rotten Row, 
the ladybirds in the Saloon, the AN- 
GELICS at Almack's, the top-of-the-tree 
heroes, the legs and levanters at Tatter- 
sail's, nay, even among the millers at 
the Fives, it would be taken for nothing 
less than the index of a complete flat. 




ANGELIFEROUS, adj. (American). 
Angelic ; also super-excellent ; a 
factitious word. It is interesting 
to note that ' angelification,' ' an- 
gelify,' and ' angelified, 1 were in 
use in the seventeenth century, 
but never to any great extent. 
spurious form based on the 
model of ' auriferous.'] It is said 
to have been first used by Bird 
in his novel, entitled Nick of the 

(West Indian). A sobriquet 
applied to habitual drunkards. 
It originated about the year 
1876, and was, in the first in- 
stance, a bon-mot of a well- 
known sugar planter on the 
East Coast Demerara. A 
negro hand, notorious for his 
hard drinking, applied for a 
holiday, and the manager hav- 
ing a suspicion that Quashie 
wanted it simply to go ' on the 
drink,' bantered him as fol- 
lows : ' John ! you were drunk 
on Sunday ? ' ' Yes, massa ! ' 
1 Monday too ? ' ' Yes, massa ! ' 
and on the question being re- 
peated as regards Tuesday, 
Wednesday, Thursday, and 
Friday, it elicited similar re- 
sponses, whereupon the ' boss ' 
quietly, but pointedly said, 
' But John, you can't be an 


know ! ' The story got abroad, 
caught on, and in a short time 
the whole colony rang with 
the expression. 

ANGEL'S FOOTSTOOL, stibs. phr. 
(nautical). Yankee skippers, 
given to high falutin', aver 
that their craft carry far more 
canvas than any vessel afloat 
of ' foreign ' origin (the term 

' foreign ' including British bot- 
toms, as well as those of na- 
tions other than Anglo-Saxon). 
Imaginary sails are crowded 
on their craft, among these 
being one which they jokingly 
call an ANGEL'S FOOTSTOOL. It is 
pretended to be a square sail, 
and is supposed to top the SKY- 


ANGEL'S GEAR, subs. phr. (nauti- 
cal). It is thus that 'jolly 
tars' sometimes speak of fe- 
male attire. Jack is notori- 
ously most susceptible where 
a petticoat is concerned. 

ANGEL-S-OIL, subs. (old). A seven- 
teenth century colloquialism for 
money used for bribery ; some- 
times OIL OF ANGELS. For 

synonyms, see ACTUAL, and 

ANGELAS SUIT, subs. phr. (tailors'). 
A ' combination ' garment for 
males. The coat and waist- 
coat were made in one, and 
the ' unmentionables ' buttoned 
on to it. Neither garment nor 
name was extensively adopted. 

ANGEL'S WHISPER, subs. phr. (mili- 
tary). A name given to the 
call to defaulter's drill. Need- 
less to say it is, as Artemus 
Ward would express it, ' wrote 


subs. (old). Pilferers or petty 
thieves, who, with a stick hav- 
ing a hook at the end, steal 
goods from shop windows, etc. 
So far Grose; but Buncombe 
adds that STARRERS are an 
order of thieves who break show 
glasses in jewellers' windows 

Angling Cove. 



and, in the consequent confusion 
steal the goods. The term is 
a very ancient one. Dekker 
in English Villanies [1632], 
thus describes an ' ANGLER for 
duds ': ' He carries a short staff 
in his hand, which is called 
a filch, having in the nab or 
head of it a ferme (that is to say 
a hole) into which, upon any 
piece of service, when he goes 
a filching, he putteth ahooke of 
iron, with which hook he angles 
at a window in the dead of 
night for shirts, smockes, or any 
other linen or woollen.' It 
would appear from this that 
modern thieves are both much 
more daring and expert. It is 
not an uncommon thing for a 
crack thief, in the broad day- 
light, in the most crowded 
streets of London, to break a 
jeweller's window, snatch some 
valuables, and make off with 
them. An iron instrument is 
used for the purpose which is 
concealed by the coat sleeve. 

ANGLING COVE, subs, (thieves'). 
A receiver of stolen goods. 

(old thieves'). Begging out of 
a prison window with a cap 
or box, let down at the end of 
a long string Grose. Such a 
practice, it is needless to say, 
would be impossible nowa- 
days. See HOOKER. 

ANGLOMANIACS, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can). A club in Boston is thus 
self-styled. Its members are 
opposed to anything British in 
every shape and form. The 
term is of course a contradic- 
tion, and should, to express the 

policy of its members, be Anglo- 


ANGULAR PARTY, subs. phr. (com- 
mon). A term given to any 
gathering of people of which the 
number is odd ; say three, seven, 
thirteen, etc. 

ANIMAL, subs. (American). Anew 
arrival at the United States 
Military Academy at West Point. 


(American). A variant of 'to 
go the whole hog.' In the West 
Indies it is varied by ' to go the 
whole dog.' See HOG. 

1838. C. DICKENS, Nicholas Nick- 
leby, p. ... Opposing all half measures, 
and preferring TO GO THE EXTREME 


1859. G. A. SALA, Twice Round the 
dock, p. 62 .... that they had much 
better pay first-class, and GO THE EN- 

AN i MULES, subs. (American). This 
expression is very generally used 
in the South-western territories, 
and in California, as a substi- 
tute for 'mules.' A witty play 
upon ' animals ' and ' mules. 1 

1834 (?) Centre-Pole Bill, in Overland 
Monthly. ' Ten miles to town ! Waal, 
stranger, I guess I'll stake out here to- 
night. Them ANIMULES is too beat to do 
that. Where's yer water?' 'It's all 
around you to-night; but you can turn 
your mules into the corral." 

verb. phr. (old). When a girl 
has been seduced she is said to 
Both French and German slang 
have analogous expressions ; in 
the former, die a mal aux gcnoux 
is said of a woman who is preg- 
nant, i.e., ' she has a bad knee.' 

Ankle- Beaters. 

5 6 Anodyne Necklace. 

In German, ladies so placed 
1 lose a shoe ' ; but of synonyms 
there are plenty. See LEG. 

ANKLE-BEATERS, subs. phr. (old). 
A class of boys who attended 
cattle markets for the purpose 
of driving to the slaughter- 
house the animals purchased 
by the butcher. They were 
called ANKLE-BEATERS from 
their driving the animals with 
long wattles, and beating them 
on the legs to avoid spoiling or 
bruising the flesh. Also called 
PENNY-BOYS (q.v.), because they 
received one penny per head as 

ANNE-S FAN, properly QUEEN 
ANNE-S FAN, subs. phr. (com- 
mon). Putting the tip of the 
thumb of either hand to the 
nose, and then spreading the 
fingers in the shape of a fan. 
A gesture of contempt often 
intensified either by twiddling 
the digits when in the position 
named, or by similarly placing 
the other hand in an extended 
line. It is also called TAKING A 
SIGHT (q.v.), and BITING THE 
THUMB (q.v.). 

ANNEX, verb.( American). Tosteal; 
in England the wise it call ' con- 
vey.' See BONE. 

A N o D Y N E , SM&S . (American thieves') . 
A euphemism for death. From 
the figurative sense of the 
word anything that soothes 
wounded or excited feelings, or 
that lessens the sense of mis- 
fortunes. C/., Old English slang 
term for a halter, ANODYNE 


Verb. (American thieves'). 
To kill. C/., foregoing ; also To 

ANODYNE NECKLACE, subs. phr. (old). 
A halter. An anodyne is that 
which allays or extinguishes 
pain, and the hangman's rope 
may indeed be regarded, from 
one point of view, as a cure for 
all pains. The expression is 
old, being traced back to 1639. 
During the period when the 
death penalty was inflicted for 
all kinds of comparatively trivial 
offences for sheep stealing, and 
even highway robberies of not 
more than forty shillings value 
synonyms equally grim and 
sententious were numerous. 
According to Wilyam Bullein, 
which ' light fellows merrily will 
call .... neckweede, or SIR 
DREW'S LACE (q.v.).' Other terms 
for the hangman's noose were 


1639. F. BEAUMONT, Bloody Brother, 
Act iii., Sc. 2. [Speaks of the hangman's 
halter as a ' necklace.'] 

1766. OLIVER GOLDSMITH, Vicar of 
Wakefteld [works, Globe ed., chap, xx., 
p. 43. [George Primrose's cousin ex- 
claims] ' May I die by an ANODYNE 
NECKLACE, but I'd rather be an under- 
turnkey in Newgate [than an usher in a 
boarding-school '] . 

The water poet (John Taylor, 
a Thames waterman, 1580- 
1654), explaining the virtue of 
hemp, says : 

Some call it neck-weed, for it hath a 

To cure the necke that's troubled with the 



also the name of a quack amu- 
let, which, for a long period, 
was a household word. This 
famous remedy occupied as 
prominent a position in the 
advertising columns of the 
journals of the middle of the 

A noint. 



eighteenth as Holloway's pills 
in the latter part of the nine- 
teenth century. This necklace 
was of beads artificially pre- 
pared, small, like barleycorns, 
and cost five shillings. For 
foreign synonyms, see HORSE'S 


ANOINT, verb, (familiar). To beat 
soundly ; to thrash ; humor- 
ously derived from the proper 
meaning of the word, ' to smear' 
or ' rub over with oil or other 
unctuous substances.' In the 
North of England the saying is 
somewhat more analogous 
' to ANOINT with the sap of a 
hazel rod.' 

1175. Rom. of Partenay (SKEAT), 
Then thay puthym hout, the kyng away 


Which so well was ANOYNTED indede, 
That no slene ne pane had he hole of 

1703. FULLER'S Trip to Bridewell, 
quoted in Ashton's The Fleet, p. 211. The 
whipper began to NOINT me with his 
instrument, that had, I believe, about 
a dozen strings notted at the end. 

1748. SMOLLETT, Rod. Random, ch. 
v. ' I'll bring him to the gangway, and 
ANOINT him with a cat-and-nine-tails." 

1824. W. IRVING, Tales of a Trav., II., 
287. Seize a trusty staft and ANOINT the 
back ot the aggressor. 

There seems to be some con- 
nection, too, between this sense 
of TO ANOINT, and the depraved 
use of ANOINTED (q.v.) to signify 
great rascality. Cf., STRAP OIL. 

phr. (common). To bribe. The 
Scotch say 'to creesh the luif.' 
The expression is very old. 

1584. KNOX, Hist, of Reformation, 
works [1846] I., 102. Yea, the handis of 
our Lordis so liberallie were ANOYNTED. 


ANOINTED, ppl.adj. (old). I. Used 
in a depraved sense to signify 
eminence in rascality. The 
most probable derivation ap- 
pears to be that suggested 
by Prof. Skeat [N. and Q., 
3 S., ix., 422]. In a French 
MS., Romance of Melusine, is 
an account of a man who had 
received a thorough and severe 
beating, which is thus referred 
to : Qui anoit este si bien oignt. 
The English version [Early 
English Text Society] trans- 
lates this, ' which so well was 
ANOYNTED indeed.' From this 
it is clear that to ANOINT a 
man was to give him a sound 
drubbing, and that the word 
was so used in the fifteenth 
century. Thus, an ANOINTED 
rogue means either one who 
has been well thrashed or who 
has deserved to be. Cf., To 


1769. ROBERTSON, Hist, of Reign of 
Charles V. Many assumed the clerical 
character for no other reason than that 
it might screen them from the punish- 
ment which their actions deserved. The 
German nobles complained loudly that 
their ANOINTED malefactors, as they 
called them, seldom suffered capitally 
even for the most enormous crimes. 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, 
ch. xxxvii. ' But, not being Lord Ether - 
ington, and an ANOINTED scoundrel into 
the bargain, I will content myself with 
cudgelling him to death.' 

2. Knowing; ripe for mis- 
chief. Duncombe . 

ANONYMA, subs, (popular). A lady 
of the demi-monde ; generally, 
though not invariably, applied 
to one of the better class. 
Women of this status were also 
called by the Times PRETTY 

HORSEBREAKERS, a notorious 

ANONYMA (circa 1868) having 
been a good horsewoman. 
Another and earlier name 

A nother. 

Another Lie. 

was INCOGNITA ; this as 
well as ANONYMA had refer- 
ence to the unrecognised 
position these ladies hold in 
what is called ' Society,' which 
tries to shut its eyes to a pro- 
duct of its own vice. The 
French cocotte best corresponds 
to the English term. For 
synonyms generally, see BAR- 

1864. G. A. SALA, Quite Alone, ch. i. 
Is that ANONYMA driving twin ponies in 
a low phaeton, a parasol attached to her 
whip, and a groom with folded arms 
behind her ? Bah ! there are so many 
ANONYMAS nowadays. If it isn't the 
Nameless One herself, it is Synonyma. 

1865. OUIDA, Strathmore, ch. vi. 
4 I'm getting tired of Mondes, one con- 
founds so easily with Demi-monde, 
and aristocrats that are so near allied to 


1881. Do RAN, In and about Drury 
Lane, vol. II., p. 159. Those ANONYMAS, 
who dress with such exquisite propriety 
lest they should be mistaken for modest 

1889. Modern Society, July 13, p. 
852. ' Christopher's Honeymoon,' by 
Mr. Malcolm Watson, produced at the 
Strand, on Wednesday, is not wholly 
bad, but it is too thin. The honey- 
mooner is surprised at his wedding 
breakfast by the news that a former 
wife, whom he thought dead, is still 
alive. Matters are still further com- 
plicated when his mother-in-law mis- 
takes his buxom laundress for a fair 


(common). A retort in usage 
hardly courteous or suave. 
Generally spoken in anger or 
resentment. The quotations 
which follow specify clearly 
the manner of use. It is in- 
teresting to note how very old 
is this common rejoinder 
nearly 350 years ; it is, more- 
over, an example which fully 
illustrates the value of the 
historical method in dealing 
with slang words and phrases. 

c. 1584. N. UDALL, Roister Doister, 
III., v., p. 58 (Arber). R. ROYSTER. If it 
were another but thou, it were a tenane. 
selfe, sir. [M.] 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. 
IX., ch. vi. ' You mistake me, friend,' 
cries Partridge, ' I did not mean to 
abuse the cloth ; I only said your con- 
clusion was a non-seqitituy.' ' You ARE 
ANOTHER,' cries the Serjeant, ' an' you 
come to that. No more a sequitur than 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. xv., p. 
123. ' Sir,' said Mr. Tupman, 'you're a 
fellow.' ' Sir,' said Mr. Pickwick, 1 YOU'RE 


1888. SIR W. HARCOURT, Speech at 
Eighty Club, Feb. 21. You know the 
little urchins in the street have a con- 
clusive argument. They say ' YOU'RE 


ANOTHER ACROBAT, phr. (music- 
hall) . Another drink ACROBAT 
being a play upon the word 
' tumbler,' i.e., a glass. 

GUESS SORT OF MAN, phr. (old). 
A cute man ; one who is, in 
modern lingo, UP TO SNUFF 
(q.v.}. 'Guess* suggests an 
erroneous derivation ; the word 
is really a corruption of ' AN- 
OTHER - GATES ' [according to 
Murray the original genitive 
case ' of another-gate, i.e., of an- 
other way, manner, or fashion'] . 

COUNTER, phr. (American). A 
detected slander. The practice 
of nailing spurious coins to 
shop counters is, even yet, not 
an obsolete custom in country 
districts ; and hence, probably, 
is derived this colloquialism. 

1888. Texas Siftings, Oct. 20. ' Who 
employed you last ? ' 'A Republican 
speaker, who had me back up his 
declaration that Cleveland was in the 
habit of beating his wife ! ' ' But that 
LIE WAS NAILED a good while ago.' ' I 
know it,' chuckled the C.L, ' but it's easy 
enough to pull out the nail.' 

A ntagonise. 

59 Anythingarian. 

ANTAGONISE, verb, (sporting). 
This, 'to act as an opponent,' 
sounds very like slang ; but, as 
a matter of fact, so long as the 
antagonising forces are of the 
same kind the word is legiti- 
mate enough. It has been so 
used from 1634 downwards, by 
Herbert, Keats, John Stuart 
Mill, and others. Only when 
(as for example in America a 
person in political phraseology 
is said to ANTAGONISE a 
measure when it is meant that 
he opposes it) the word is used 
in connection with antagonistic 
forces not of a kind can it be 
regarded as partaking of slang. 
In the quotation by Barrere 
from the Saturday Review (no 
date given : refer, however, to 
Sat. R., Dec. 18, 1886, p. 799) 
the word is used in a perfectly 
correct manner. 

1886. Saturday Review on Sporting 
Slang, 18 Dec., p. 799, col. i. Dingley 
Dell sent Jones and Robinson to the 
wickets, where they were antagonised 
with the leather by Alf and the Young 

(old). To knock one's knees 
together from an infirmity. 
Also called TO CUFF JONAS. 

CUFFIN, subs. A knock-kneed 

(old). See TANTONY PIG. 

1787. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. The favourite or smallest 
pig in the litter ; to follow like a tantony 
pig, i.e., St. Anthony's pig, signified to 
follow close at one's heels. St. Anthony, 
the hermit, was a swine herd, and is 
always represented with his bell and 

ANTIMONY, subs. (printers'). 
Type ; so called from one of 
its component parts. 

IT, phr. (American). A slang 
expression of acquiescence as, 
e.g., 'I don't know if you'll 
succeed, but ANYHOW YOU CAN 

ANY OTHER MAN! phr. (American). 
A call to order addressed to 
prosy, discursive speakers when 
they give themselves over to 
the use of synonymous terms. 

ANY RACKET, subs, (rhyming slang) . 
A penny faggot. 

adv. phr. (common). A vul- 
garism rather than slang. Used 
in the same manner, as are LIKE 
(q.v.), when a person is at a loss 
for a simile. See WINKEY. 

1542. UDALL'S Erasmus Apoph., 
p. 32. The young maiden, where the 
lokers on quaked and trembled for feare, 
daunced without any feare at all emong 
sweardes and kniues, beyng as sharpe 


1740. RICHARDSON, Pamela, ii., 57. 
O my dear father and mother, I fear 
your girl will grow as proud AS ANY- 

1840. BARHAM, /. L. (Misadv. at 
The tear-drop in his little eye again 

began to spring, 
His bosom throbo'd with agony, he 


1873. CARROLL, Through a Looking 
Glass, iv., 73. They wept LIKE ANY- 
THING to see such quantities of sand. 

ANYTHINGARIAN, subs, (common). 
A contemptuous term for one 
who is apathetic as regards his 
political or religious creed, or 
other matters upon which man- 
kind generally hold decided 
views. [Frpm ANYTHING + 
ARIAN, after /nwrt-ARiAN, unit- 


A ny thingarianism . 6o 


1717. Entertainer, Nov. 6 [quoted 
in N. & Q., 7 S., vi., 66]. Nor, which is 
ten times worse, Free-thinkers, Atheists, 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. i.). 

Lady Sm. What religion is he of ? 
Lady Sp. Why, he is an ANYTHING- 


Lady Ans. I believe he has his 

religion to chuse, my lord. 

1849. C. KINGSLEY, Alton Locke, 
ch. xxii. They made puir Robbie Burns 
an ANYTHINGARIAN with their blethers. 

lar). The creed or doctrine of 
an Anythingarian. [See pre- 
ceding] . 

1851. C. KINGSLEY (Life, i., 215). 
Schiller's ' Gods of Greece ' expresses, I 
think, a tone of feeling very common, 
and which finds its vent in modern Neo- 



ANYWHERE DOWN THERE ! (tailors'). 
If, in a workroom or elsewhere 
where tailors congregate, an 
article is dropped upon the floor, 


used as a kind of catch-phrase. 

MENTS TO LET, verb. phr. (popu- 
lar).!. To take rank in the 
estimation of one's fellows as an 
idiot ; ' a born fool ' one who is 
empty-headed, not furnished 
with brains. 

dotty ; to have a screw loose ; 
to be balmy ; to have a bee in 
one's bonnet (Scotch) ; to be off 
one's chump ; to have no milk 
in the cocoa-nut ; to be touched ; 
to be balmy in one's crumpet ; 
to be wrong in the upper storey ; 
to have rats in the upper storey ; 
to have a tile loose ; to be half 

une ecrevisse dans la tourte, or 
dans le vol-au-vent (popular : 
that is ' to have a crawfish 
in the pie,' or ' in the head.' 
C/., ' to have rats in the upper 
storey ' ) ; avoir la boule dctraquce 
(popular : lit. ' to have one's 
ball turned ') ; avoir le coco f'de 
(popular : lit. ' to have one's 
cocoa nut cracked.' In English 
slang the head is also called 
a ' cocoa-nut ') ; avoir le trognon 
dctraquee (popular : ' to have 
a bee in one's bonnet. 1 Trognon 
is also a slang term for the 
head or ' noddle ') ; avoir un 
asticot dans la noisette (popular : 
lit. ' to have a maggot in one's 
nut.' In English slang the 
head is likewise ' the nut.' C/., 
also the expression ' a worm in 
the bud ') ; avoir un bceuf gras 
dans le char (popular) ; avoir un 
cancrelat dans la boule (popular : 
lit. ' to have a cockroach in 
one's ball ' ' ball ' here refer- 
ing to the head or ' nut.' Can- 
crelat is properly kakerlac or 
American cockroach) ; avoir un 
hanneton dans le reservoir (popu- 
lar : lit. ' to have a May-bug ' or 
' cockchafer in one's cistern' or 
1 well.' This seems to be on all 
fours with ' a bee in one's bon- 
net.' The phrase sometimes 
runs avoir un hanneton dans le 
plafond, i.e., to have a cock- 
chafer in one's ceiling, and here 
the analogy between the two 
phrases is more clearly mark- 
ed) ; avoir un moustique dans la 
boite au sel (popular: lit. 'to 
have a mosquito in the salt-box 
or cellar ') ; avoir un voyageur 
dans V omnibus (popular) ; avoir 
une araignce dans le plafond (popu- 
lar : lit. ' to have a spider in ' the 
head ; plafond, ' a ceiling,' be it 
noted is a slang term for ' the 


61 Apostle's Grove. 

head') ; avoir une grtnouille dans 
V aquarium (popular : lit : ' to 
have a frog in one's aquari- 
um ') ; avoir line hirondelle dans 
h soliveau (popular : ' to have 
a swallow in the head ') ; 
avoir tine Marseillaise dans le 
Kiosque (popular) ; avoir tine 
punaise dans le soufflet (popular : 
' to have a bug in one's 
brain ') ; avoir une sardine dans 
Var moire a glace (popular : ' to 
have a sardine in the head 
or brain.' Annoire a glace 
the head) ; avoir une trichinne 
dans le jambonneau (popular : 
jambonneau, the head) ; avoir une 
sauterelle dans la guitar e (popu- 
lar : lit. ' to have a grasshopper 
in the guitar'). 

For other synonyms, see TILE 

2. A widow is said TO HAVE 


APE- LEADER, subs. (old). An old 
maid. Leading apes in hell 
was the employment jocularly 
assigned to those who neglected 
to assume marital functions 
while living. 

1581. LYLY, Euphucs (Arb.), 87. Ra- 
ther thou shouldest leade a lyfe to thine 
owne lyking in earthe, than LEADE 


1605. Lond. Prodigal, I. ,"2. 'Tes an 
old proverb, and you know it well, that 
women dying maids LEAD APES IN HELL. 

1717. MRS. CENTLIVRE, Bold Stroke, 
II., i. Poor girl ; she must certainly LEAD 
APES, as the saying is. 

1830. GENERAL P. THOMPSON, Exerc. 
(1842), I., 198. Joining with other old 
women, in LEADING THEIR APES in 
Tartarus. [M.] 

There are several proverbial 
sayings in which the ape plays 
an important part. To SAY AN 
APE'S PATERNOSTER is to chat- 
ter with cold ; this corresponds 
with the French, dire des paU- 

ndtres de singe. To PUT AN APE 
make a fool of one, etc. 

APES, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
Atlantic and North - Western 
Railway first mortgage bonds. 


subs. phr. (Cambridge Univ.). 
Formerly, when the Poll, or 
ordinary B.A. degree list was 
arranged in order of merit, the 
last twelve were nicknamed 
were also called THE CHOSEN 
TWELVE, and the last, St. Poll 
or St. Paul a punning allusion 
to i Cor. xv., 9, ' For I am the 
least of the Apostles, that am 
not meet to be called an 
Apostle.' The list is now 
arranged alphabetically and in 
classes. Hotten suggests that 
APOSTLES is a corruption of 
post alias, i.e., ' after the others.' 
It may perhaps also be men- 
tioned that in one American 
University at least, Columbia 
College, D.C., the last twelve 
on the B.A. list actually receive 
the personal names of the 

1795. Gentleman's Magazine, Jan., 

&. 19. [The last twelve names on the 
ambridge list are here called THE 

TLES, a variant of the familiar 
expression, ' to rob Peter to pay 
Paul'; i.e., to borrow from one 
person to pay another. 

APOSTLE-S GROVE, subs, (common). 
The London district known 
as St. John's Wood. Also 
LIST. Both names are applied 
sarcastically in allusion to the 
large numbers of the demi- 


62 Apple-Pie Bed. 

monde who live in that quarter 
of town. 

APOTHECARY, verb p/ir. (old). 
To talk nonsense ; from the 
pseudo gravity and affectation 
of knowledge often assumed by 
these gentlemen at a time when 
their status was not legally held 
under examination and license 
of the Apothecaries' Company. 

(old). A long bill. 

TIN, siibs. (old). Now called 
DOG-LATIN (q.v.}. 

APPLE CART, subs, (common), i. 
The human body. A slang term 
similar to 'POTATO TRAP,' 'BREAD- 

PLUMB," ' BACON,' and ' BEER- 
BARREL' (all of which see). There 
are numerous variations in 
usage ; e.g., if two men are 
quarrelling, and a friend of one 
interferes saying ' I will upset 
his APPLE CART 'it means, ' while 
you are parleying with the enemy 
I will knock him down.' Again, 
if a child falls down, says W. 
W. Skeat (referring to his early 
Kentish remembrance of the 
word), you first enquire if he is 
much hurt. If he is merely a 
little frightened you say, ' Well, 
never mind, then ; you've only 
upset your APPLE CART and spilt 
the gooseberries.' The child 
laughs and all is well again. 

2. Also employed in a figura- 
tive sense. To UPSET AN APPLE 
CART sometimes means, not so 
much to knock a man down, as 
to prevent him from doing what 
he wants to do by the upsetting 
as it were, of an imaginary 
APPLE CART; i.e., to thwart ; to 

disarrange ; to overthrow ; to 
ruin an undertaking. Some- 
times the expression is varied by 


APPLECART. Barrere's reference 
of the genesis of the phrase 
to the costermonger's imagina- 
tive powers is ' all conjecture 
and fancy ' ; as also is his 
American derivation of the ex- 
pression in its more figurative 
sense. In the first place APPLE 
CARTS are perfectly familiar ob- 
jects in all country districts ; and, 
in the second, the phrase is too old 
a provincialism to need deriving 
from the peripatetic vendors in 
question. Further, though TO 


American variation for the 
second sense, as it appears to 
have been so used, dialectic- 
ally, throughout England, the 
weight of assumption must be 
given to its English origin, and 
subsequent transference to Ame- 

barrel ; bacon. 

(literally, quality) ; cylindre (popu- 
lar : lit. ' a cylinder,' or ' barrel. 1 
Cf. with English ' beer barrel ') ; 
grosse caisse (popular : lit.' a large 
case,' or ' box ') ; paillasse (popu- 
lar : lit. ' a straw mattress ') ; 
also place d'armes; casaquin. 

(common). A woman's bosom. 
For synonyms, see DAIRIES. 

APPLE-MONGER. The same as 


APPLE-PIE BED, subs. phr. (common). 
A practical joke, which con- 
sists in making up a bed with 
the sheets doubled half way 

Apple-Pie Day. 


up, so as to prevent a person 
from stretching out at full 
length, and filling the bag thus 
formed with brushes, soap- 
dishes, etc. So called, either 
from the apple-turnover, in 
which the ' paste ' is turned over 
the apples, or from the French, 
a pits, folded. 

1811. C. K. SHARPE, in Correspon- 
dence (1888), i., 466. After squeezing my- 
self up, and making a sort of APPLE-PYE 
BED with the beginning of my sheet. 

1883. Saturday Review, Nov. 3, p. 
566, col. 2. Some 'evil-disposed per- 
sons' have already visited his room, 

tifully strewn with hair-brushes and 

The French have an analo- 
gous phrase, ' mettre un lit en 
portefeuille .' 

APPLE- PIE DAY, subs. phr. (Win- 
chester Coll.) The day on 
which Six -and -Six (q.v.) is 
played. It is the Thursday 
after the first Tuesday in De- 
cember. So called because 
hot apple-pies were served on 
COMERS (q.v.) in College for 

APPLE PIE ORDER, subs. phr. 
(familiar). Exact or perfect 
order. Etymolygists have long 
puzzled themselves concerning 
this expression, and many de- 
rivations have been put forward 
in explanation. Some have 
found in it an allusion to the 
regular order in which the 
component parts of some vari- 
eties of that toothsome deli- 
cacy, apple pie, were formerly 
laid one on the top of, or side by 
side with each other. Others, 
on the contrary, scout such a 
homely origin, and suggest that 
APPLE PIE ORDER is cap d pied 
order. The authorities who 

incline to this view point out 
that cap d pied in the sense of 
1 perfectly appointed ' occurs in 
one of the scenes of Hamlet. 
Though orthographically the 
transition from one to the 
other, at first sight, would 
appear to be somewhat lame 
and halting, yet phonetically 
the difference is much less 
marked. It has further been 
suggested that APPLE PIE ORDER 
is a corruption of 'Alpha-beta' 
i.e., alphabetical order, but this 
would seem rather far-fetched, 
as also is the reference of it to 
the nursery rhyme of 'A was an 
apple pie ; B bit it ; C cut it ; 
D divided it,' and so on, the 
allusion being to the regular 
order in which the letters of 
the alphabet occur. Probably 
the weight of evidence is on the 
side of the derivation from 
cap d pied, more especially as 
that phrase was once very 

1813. SCOTT in Lochart, Life, IV. 
(1839), 131. The childien's garden is in 


1835. MARRYAT, Jacob Faithful, viii., 
29. Put the craft a little into APPLE PIE 

1837. BARHAM, /. L. (Old Woman 
in Grey). 
I am just in the order which some folks 

though why, 
I am sure I can't tell you would call 

apple pie. 

phr. (common). *'.., 'What a 
good time we are having.' This 
expression, a very old one, is 
synonymous with pleasureable 
experience coupled with brisk 

1697-1764. HOGARTH (Works by J. 
Ireland and J. Nichols, London, 1873), 
III., p. 29. And even this, little as it is, 
gives him so much importance in his 
own eyes, that he assumes a consequen- 

Apples and Pears. 6 4 


tial air, sets his arms akimbo, and strut- 
ting among the historical artists cries, 


1860. Cornhill Mag. (D. Mallett, 
Tyburn), Dec., p. 737. While tumbling 
down the turbid stream, Lord, love us, 


APPLES AND PEARS, subs. phr. 
(rhyming slang). A pair of 

APPLE-SQUIRE, subs. (old). A har- 
lot's attendant, or FANCY MAN 
(q.v.) ; these gentry are now 
commonly called ' BULLIES ' 
(q.v.). Nares gives ' SQUIRE OF 
THE BODY ' as a synonymous 
term ; also APRON-SQUIRE. 

1500. (circa) Way to Spyttel Hous, 
832 in Hazl. E. P. P., iv., 60. [Here given 


[1580-1654] TAYLOR, Discourse by 
Sea (works II., 21). 
Are whoremasters decai'd, are bawds 

all dead, 
Are pandars, pimps, and APPLE-SQUIRES 

all fled? IN.] 

1738. Poor Robin .... Little 
truth will be found amongst cut-purses, 
liars, bawds, whores, pimps, pandars, 
and APPLE-SQUIRES ; only the pimp 
pretends to something more of truth 
than the other, for if he promise to help 
you to a whore, he will be sure that she 
shall not be an honest woman. [N.] 

For synonyms, ancient and 
modern, and also foreign equiva- 
lents, see FANCY MAN. 

APRON. GREEN APRON, subs. (old). 
A contemptuous term for a 
lay preacher. See BIBLE- 

1654. WARREN, Unbelievers, 145. 
It more befits a GREEN-APRON preacher, 
than such a Gamaliel. [M.] 

1705. HICKERINGILL, Priestcraft I. 
(1721), 21. Unbeneficed Noncons. (that 
live by Alms and no Paternoster, no 
Penny, say the GREEN-APRONS). [M.] 

1765. TUCKER, Lt. Nat., II., 451. 
The gifted priestess amongst the Quakers 
is known by her GREEN APRON. [M.] 

APRONEER, subs. (old). A shop- 
keeper ; a tradesman. Murray 
states that the term was used 
contemptuously of the Parlia- 
mentary party during the Civil 

1659. GAUDEN, Tears of Church,^. 
Some prating sequestrator, or some 
surly APKONEER. 

1690. D'URFEY, Collin's Walk, c. 
iii., p. 107. But every sturdy APRONEER, 
arm'd with battoon, did straight appear. 

APRON-ROGUE, subs. (old). A 
labourer ; a mechanic. 

1663. KILLEGREW, Parson's Wedding 
in Dodsley's Old Plays (1780), XL, 382. 
APRON-ROGUES with horn hands. [M.] 



subs. phr. (familiar). An estate 
held by a man during his wife's 
life; or by virtue of her right. 

1647. WARD, Simp. Cobler, 67. 
APRON-STRING TENURE is very weak. 


1753. RICHARDSON, Grandison, iv., 
23. He cursed the APRON-STRING 
tenure, by which he said he held his 
peace. [D.] 

1804. MRS. BARBAULD, Richardson 
I., 160. All her fortune in her own 
power a very APRON-STRING TENURE. 


STRINGS, verb. phr. (common). 
Under petticoat government ; to 
dangle after a woman. Formerly 
said only of children; later of 
all who follow a woman sub- 

1712. Spectator, No. 506. The fair 
sex are so conscious to themselves, that 
they have nothing in them which can 
deserve entirely to ingross the whole 
man, that they heartily despise one, 
who, to use their own expression, is 

A qua. 

A rchduke. 

1834. Miss EDGEWORTH, Helen, ch. 
viii. A homebred lordling, who, from 
the moment he SLIPPED HIS MOTHER'S 
APRON-STRINGS, had fallen into folly. 

1849. MACAULAY, History of Eng- 
land, II., 649. He could not submit to 


the best of wives. 

AQUA, subs. (American thieves'). 
Water. From the Latin. 

AQUA POMPAGINIS, subs. phr. (old). 
- Pump water [Dog-Latin ; 
from L., AQUA, water + English, 
PUMP + simulated Latin termina- 
tion, aginis] . 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. AQUA POMPAGINIS. . . . 
Apothecaries' Latin. 

Sheppard [1889], p. 13. ' Exactly my 
sentiments,' rejoined Blueskin. ' I 
wouldn't force him for the world ; but if 
he don't tip the stivers, may I be cursed 
if he don't get a taste of the AQUA 
POMPAGINIS. Let's have a look at the 
kinchen that ought to have been throt- 
tled,' added he, snatching the child from 
Wood. ' My stars ! here's a pretty 
lullaby-cheat to make a fuss about ho 

Sheppard [1889], p. 15. 'He shall go 
through the whole course,' replied Blue- 
skin, with a ferocious grin, 'unless he 
comes down to the last grig. We'll 
lather him with mud, shave him with a 
rusty razor, and drench him with AQUA 

For synonyms, see ADAM'S 


AQUATICS, subs. (Eton college). 
The particular game of cricket 
in which men in the boats play. 

AQUA-VIT/E, subs. (old). Formerly 
an alchemic term ; but, after a 
while, popularly received as a 
generic name for ardent spirits, 
such as brandy, whiskey, etc. 
[From L. = water of life. Cf., 
French eau-de-vie, and Irish 

ARABS, subs, (common). Nick- 
names for young street vagrants 
are numerous. They are 'Bedou- 
ins,' 'Street Arabs,' and 'Ju- 
venile Roughs ' in London ; 
they are ' Gamins ' in Paris ; 
1 Bowery Boys ' in New York ; 
1 Hoodlums ' in San Francisco ; 
and ' Larrikins ' in Melbourne. 
This last phrase is an Irish 
constable's broad pronuncia- 
tion of ' larking,' applied to the 
nightly street performances of 
these young scamps, there, as 
elsewhere, a real social pesti- 
lence. See STREET ARAB. 

1848. GUTHRIE, Plea for Ragged 
Schools. [In this work the homeless 
wanderers and children of the streets 
were spoken of as ARABS OF THE CITY, 
and City Arabs.] 

ARBOR VIT>E, subs. (old). The 
penis. [Latin ; = the Tree of 
Life]. For synonyms, see 


(thieves'). The chief or leader 
of a gang of thieves. [From 
Greek, archo to be first, to com- 
mand, to rule + COVE, a slang 
term for a man.] Formerly 




ARCHDEACON, subs. (Oxford Univ.). 
Merton strong ale. 

(old). The wife or female com- 
panion of an ARCH-COVE. See 

ARCHDUKE, subs, (old slang). A 
buffoon ; an eccentric person. 

Arch Gonnof. 




ARD, adj. (American thieves'). 
Hot ; a corrupted form of 
'ardent.' Formerly 'afoot.' 

AREA-SNEAK, subs, (common). A 
thief who lurks about areas for 
the purposes of theft. 

1838. DICKENS, Nicholas Nickleby, 
ch. lix., p. 480. ' Why wasn't I a thief, 
swindler, housebreaker, AREA-SNEAK, 
robber of pence out of the trays of blind 
man's dogs? ' 

1869. English Mechanic, 14 May, 
p. 181, col. i. [They] would invariably 
become pickpockets or AREA-SNEAKS. 

1883. Daily Telegraph, June 13, p. 
7, col. 3. The AREA-SNEAK, too, may find 
his occupation partially gone through 
the strictness of the rules which encom- 
pass the trade of the second-hand 

Among other names for thieves 
may be mentioned: 

' Beak or beaker-hunter (a poul- 
try thief) ; bug-hunter (speci- 
ality breast pins, studs, etc.) ; 
buz-faker (a pickpocket) ; but- 
tock and file (a shoplifter) ; 
bouncer (one who steals while 
bargaining with a tradesman ; a 
shoplifter) ; bridle-cull (a high- 
wayman) ; cracksman (a burg- 
lar) ; crossman (an old term. 
Literally a man ' on the cross, ' 
or who gets his living surrepti- 
tiously) ; cross-cove (see fore- 
going) ; conveyancer (a pick- 
pocket) ; dancer (a thief who 
gains entrance to houses from 
the roof) ; flash-cove (a sharp- 
er) ; flashman (a prostitute's 
bully who pretends to catch the 
victim in flagrante delicto with his 
wife, and thus makes an excuse 
for robbery and extortion) ; 
finder (a thief who confines his 

depredations to meat-markets 
and butchers' shops) ; gun (a 
contraction of GONNOF, which 
see) ; gleaner, hooker, or angler 
(these are petty thieves, who 
work with hooks and rods) ; lob- 
sneak ; lully-prigger (one who 
steals clothes when they are 
hanging out to dry) ; snakesman 
or sneaksman (a shoplifter ; a 
petty thief) ; sneeze-lurker (this 
kind work by first blinding vic- 
tims with pepper, etc.); moucher 
(a prowling thief) ; mill-ben (an 
old cant term, which see) ; prig ; 
prop-nailer (a ' prop ' is a scarf 
pin) ; palmer (a thief who ' rings 
the changes ' ; but see under 
PALMER) ; pudding - snammer 
(an eating-house thief) ; drum- 
mer or drammer (these gen- 
try stupify their victims prior 
to robbing them) ; stock-hauler 
(speciality pocket - handker- 
chiefs) ; tooler (a pickpocket) ; 
toy -getter (a watch thief). 

droguiste (corresponds to the 
English ' hawk ' or ' rook ' ) ; 
un chcne affranchi ( a ' flash 
cove ' ) ; un careur, or voleur a 
la care (thief who robs money- 
changers while pretending to 
offer old coins for sale) ; un 
enfant de la matte (' a child 
of folly.' See FAMILY MAN); 
un tiretaine (a country thief) ; un 
garqon de cambrouse (a highway- 
man) ; un gar$on de campagne 
(same as example last quoted) ; 
un frere de la manicle ; un philan- 
trope (a peddlar's term) ; un bon- 
jourier or voleur an bonjour (an 
early morning thief, but see 
under THIEVES) ; un philibert (of 
the sharper stamp) ; un philosophe 
(lit. 'a philosopher' ); un enfant de 
minuit (formerly, says Cotgrave, 
enfants de la messe de minuit, i.e., 
companions of the midnight 




mass, not for devotion, but for 
robbery and abuse) ; ramas- 
tiqneiir (one who swindles by 
means of pocket-book dropping, 
etc. a variety of the con- 
fidence trick) ; un jardinier, un 
Americain ('confidence trick' 
men) ; un tirebogue ( a watch 
thief ; in English slang a ' toy- 
getter ') ; unfriauche ; un grinchis- 
seur de bogues (a watch thief ) ; un 
mion de bottle (equivalent to the 
English ' prig ' ) ; un fil de soie ; 
un doubleur ( = English ' prig ' ; un 
doubleur de sorgue, 'a night 
thief) ; un voleur a la tire (a pick- 
pocket) ; un tireur (a pickpocket ; 
literally ' one who draws out ' ) ; 

chem-blatter ; cocliem (a thieves' 
accomplice ; from Hebrew cho- 
chem, wise, instructed) ; erntemac- 
kener (thieves who steal from 
houses while the owners are 
away harvesting. From erndte, 
harvest -f machen, to make) ; 
anstiebler (one who plans rob- 
beries ; an instigator to theft. 
A corrupted form of anstifter, an 
instigator) ; achbrosch (also ach- 
berosch, achperosch, achprosch, 
approsch, an infamous thief or 
robber, a rogue, a sharper. Not 
so much from the Chaldean 
achbero, a mouse + rosch, head, 
as from the passage Jer. Baba. 
Mez. 8., achberi reschii, i.e., 'the 
mice are vile.' Hence applied 
primarily to a notorious thief. 
Thiele says the expressions have 
not been so much in use since 
the suppression of the famous 
Rhenish robber gang ; the 
words, however, particularly 
achbrosch, are not by any means 
obsolete, being very much in 
use by cattle and horsedealers, 
and sharpers generally) ; ganof 
(Hebrew, ' a thief ; fromgonaw, 

' to steal ') ; achelpeter (an inac- 
tive lazy old thief who sponges 
upon his confederates. From 
Hebrew ochal, to eat + putzen, 
from O.H.G., biz an, pizzan, 
' food ') ; golehopser (a thief who 
jumps on a loaded cart or other 
vehicle whilst in motion to 
steal boxes or small packages. 
In English slang this kind of 
thief is called a ' dragsman ') ; 
goleschdchter (the same as pre- 
ceding, but instead of making 
off bodily with the booty, the 
packages are cut open, and the 
contents thrown down for an 
accomplice to secure) ; bihengst 
(a thief who steals bees) ; bal- 
dower (a principal, or leader of 
a gang of thieves; one who 
advises and plans robberies. 
Balhoche is also a man who has 
an opportunity for theft ; balspiess 
the host of an inn, frequented 
by thieves and rogues) ; brenner 
(a thief who preys upon others 
of his kind, by demanding, 
under threats of exposure, a 
share of a successful robbery, 
without having taken part in it. 
From brennen, ' to claim ' ; lit- 
erally ' to burn ' ; or it may be 
from berennen, ' to run against 
or blockade ') ; chalfan (also 
chalfen, chalfener, chilfer, legiti- 
mately ' a money changer,' but 
amongst German thieves the 
name of the rogue who, in 
changing money, commits theft. 
Cf., English, ' ringing the 
changes ') ; chawer (Hebrew : 
literally an associate ; chaweress 
[/i?;.], a thief's confederate; a 
comrade. Chawrusse, kabruse, 
a gang or confederation of 
thieves ; chawrusse melochenen, to 
form a gang of thieves; chen- 
neter, a thief who knows how to 
conduct himself with tact and 
address in good society. From 

A rea-Sneak. 



the Hebrew cJiono, gentle, kind, 
affable) ; chessenspiess, fern., ches- 
senspiesse (the landlord or mis- 
tress of an inn frequented by 
thieves a place where they 
may find refuge without fear of 
discovery. From the Hebrew) ; 
chcchom (also chochem, chochemer, 
more frequently spelled with 
' K ' from the Hebrew, the 
wise one. A prudent, cunning 
thief. Chochem lehorre, a dan- 
gerous thief, one prepared for 
the worst ; of a similar mean- 
ing is chochem mechutten, a 
dangerous companion, a rogue 
of the worst type) ; bahnherr 
(also bohnherr and Herr by itself : 
literally ' a road-master ' ; a 
burglar one who prepares a 
robbery) ; diffler (a thoroughly 
dexterous thief ; from tup/el, ' a 
point ') ; drdngley (a thief, who, 
to divert the attention of people 
from his intention, causes a 
crowd to assemble) ; padden- 
driicker (a pickpocket one whose 
speciality is purses : drucker 
is a corrupted form of trecken, 
' to draw ' or ' steal ' quickly 
and adroitly. Drucker, like 
driichen, ' to steal ' is never used 
by itself, but always with the 
object of the theft ; hence 
paddendri'icker, a purse thief; 
luppendrucker, a watch thief; 
torfdritcker, a generic name for 
a pickpocket) ; eintreiber (a con- 
federate who entices a victim to 
play so that his comrade may 
swindle him) ; erefschieber (a thief 
who goes out at evening time 
to commit robberies. Also 
erefhalchener , ere/ganger, eref- 
hdndler. Eref=evemng) ; 
fichteganger (a night thief or 
burglar) ; fiesel (supposed to be 
derived from faser, ' a birch," 
' rod,' or ' fibre.' In Vienna, 
the scum of society is meant 

by fiesel the commonest thief, 
professional vagabond, a pro- 
tector of brothels and whores 
of the most repulsive kind. 
These thieves are of great 
daring, utterly unscrupulous, 
and are consequently much 
dreaded. Some feign to carry 
on the business of a rag and 
bone-picker, what in the 
fiesellange or Viennese thieves' 
lingo is termed, 'going out for 
profit.' In the sense of ' a 
rod,' fiesel is applied to the 
membrum genitale masculi ; hence 
fiesel as synonymous with 
strength, i.e., pertaining to the 
stronger sex. It was formerly 
used in connection with many 
other words; e.g., mddchenfiesel, 
' one who habitually runs after 
women,' ' a molrower,' a ' loose 
fish." FmtfManguage means 
the language of the strong, of 
those belonging to the fellow- 
ship of thieves, burglars, and 
rowdies) ; freikdufer ( a thief 
whose speciality it is to steal 
at fairs and markets) ; freis- 
chupper (a card sharper ; a 
gambling cheat who carries 
on his business in crowded 
places of public resort) ; 
gacheler (also gachler, gackler, 
hachler, kakler, kegler : a pan- 
try thief ; one who steals eat- 
ables and plate from kitchens 
whilst servants are attending at 
table) ; gannew (from Hebrew 
gonaw, ' to steal ') ; gaslan (from 
Hebrew gosal, ' to rob') ; glitscher 
(gypsy : glitschin, ' the key : a 
thief who works by means of 
skeleton keys) ; godler chochem 
(from Hebrew godol, great, 
strong, celebrated + Hebrew 
chochem, the wise one ; hence, 
a clever rogue, a thief who 
thoroughly understands his 
business) ; goi gomur (an utterly 



unreliable confederate. Goi, 
plural gojim is applied to those 
not Jews, to Christians ; in the 
plural, especially, in the sense 
of ignorant people, suspicious 
or two-faced characters ; also 
used as a synonym for 
Philistine a man of whom 
one has to be careful. Goje 
[femJ] is almost always used 
contemptuously for a female) ; 
gotte (also gotti, gode, gottling 
[O. H. G., gataling] a con- 
federate, a relative especially 
used to denote one who has 
been doing good business) ; 
gutenmorgenwimscher (literally 
1 good morning wisher ' : thieves 
who break into rooms early 
in the morning for purposes 
of robbery. The French have 
an analogous expression in 
bonjourier, or voleur au bon 
jour). For other synonyms, 

besque). Quadro (a cut-purse. 
In the Germania or Spanish 
argot, quadro is used in the 
sense of 'a poignard,' and 
quadrata in that of 'purse.' 
Possibly the Fourbesque quadro 
is derived from one of these 
words. In Italian it is literally 
1 a square ' or ' a rule ') ; gran- 
chetto (also ' one who speaks 
gibberish ') ; lavorante di scarpe 
(a pickpocket or cut-purse : lit. 
' working shoes ') ; camuffo ; fia- 
detto (also ' a dolt, 1 ' a duffer ') ; 
carpione ; truccante (also ' a beg- 

mania). A quila (a sharper : lit. 
' an eagle ') ; bolador (thought to 
be derived from the French 
voleur} ; coinendadores de bold 
(thieves who work principally 
at fairs and markets) ; gerifalte 
(lit. 'a gerfalcon' one of the 

' hawk ' species) ; lince (lit. ' a 
lynx . ' This class of thief varies 
robbery with begging) ; piloto 
(a thief who directs others 
to the place of rendezvous, i.e., 
where a robbery has been plan- 
ned ; lit. 'a pilot ') ; trabajar 
(lit. 'a traveller ). See THIEVES. 

lao). Pai (a captain of thieves 
an Aaron or arch-cove) ; 
maguino (a highwayman). 

For exhaustive and compara- 
tive description of all classes 
of thieves, both English and 
foreign, see THIEVES THEIR 


ARF, adj. (vulgarism). Half; e.g., 
' 'arf an 'our,' i.e., half an hour. 



ARGOL-BARGOL, subs, and verb. (old). 
ARGOL, sometimes ARGAL, is 
a corrupt pronunciation of 
Latin ergo, therefore ; hence, 
from that word being frequently 
used in conversation, a clumsy, 
unsound piece of reasoning or 
cavilling ; and verbally, to bandy 
words. Hotten says ARGOL- 
BARGOL is Scotch, but ARGAL is 
found in Hamlet, v. i., and the 
fuller form is probably onama- 
topoeticlike ' shilly-shally,' ' ho- 
cus-pocus,' etc., unless it comes 
from the Hebrew through the 
Yiddish bar-leu ' to talk or speak ' 
[anyhow] . 

1596. SHAKSPEAR, Hamlet v. i., 21., 
ist Clown. Here lies the water ; good : 
here stands the man ; good : If the man 
go to this water, it is, will he, nil he, he 
goes ; mark you that : but if the water 
come to him, he drowns not himself: 
ARGAL, he that is not guilty of his own 
death, shortens not his own life. 

A rgol-Bargolous. 7 


1823. J. GALT, The Entail, i., 53. 
' Weel, weel,' said the laird, ' dinna let 
us ARGOL-BARGOL about it; entail your 
own property as ye will, mine shall be on 
the second son." 

1861. Times, 23 Aug. Mr. Buckle's 
argument [is] as absurd an ARGAL as 
ever was invented by philsopher or 
gravedigger. [M.] 

ARGOL-BARGOLOUS, adj. (old). 
Quarrelsome. See ARGOL-BAR- 

1822. J. GALT, The Provost, p. 194. 
No doubt his ARGOL-BARGOLOUS disposi- 
tion was an inheritance accumulated 
with his other conquest of wealth from 
the mannerless Yankees. 

ARGUFY, verb, (vulgar). A cor- 
rupted form of ' to argue,' 
usually associated with cavill- 
ing or a bandying of words ; 
also, ' to signify' ; e.g., ' It doesn't 
much ARGUFY.' 

1758. A. MURPHY, The Upholsterer, 
Act i. Well, it does not signify ARGIFY- 


1837. LYTTON, Ernest Maltravers, 
bk. IV., ch. vii. 'Lord! how I should 
like to have you on the roadside instead 
of within these four gimcrack walls. 
Ha! ha! the ARGUFYING would be all in 
my favour then.' 

ARISTIPPUS, subs. (old). i. A 
diet drink or decoction of sar- 
saparilla and other drugs, sold 
at the coffee-houses, and drank 
as tea. Grose. 

2. Also a cant name for 
canary wine. 

1627. (circa) MIDDLETON, Wks. 
(Halliwell), II., 422. Rich ARISTIPPUS, 
sparkling sherry. 

can). A grimly facetious name 
for a folding bowie knife of 
large dimensions. 

1854. SIR THEO. MARTIN (with Prof. 
Aytoun), Bon Gaultier Ballads. 
' Straightway leaped the valiant Slingby 
Into armor of Seville, 

Screwed in every joint of steel.' 

1881. A. B. GREEN LEAK, Ten Years 
in Texas, p. 27. All these (men) irre- 
spective of age, size, or condition in 
life, could be seen with a Navy six- 
shooter and an ARKANSAS TOOTHPICK 
suspended to a raw-hide belt tucked 
around their waists. Supplement the 
above equipment with a sore-backed 
mustang pony, an old army saddle-tree 
and rope bridle, and you have an exact 
picture and entire possession of the 
fifteenth constitutional amendment. 

1888. Detroit Free Press, Aug. It is 
not good form to use a TOOTHPICK in 
ARKANSAS now. A big revolver is the 
thing in the best society. 

For synonyms, see CHIVE. 

ARK- FLOATER, subs, (theatrical). 
An actor well advanced in years. 
[From an allusion to the pro- 
verbial saying concerning any- 
thing ancient, ' He, or it, must 
have come out of Noah's ARK,' 
+ FLOATS, the footlights.] 

A R KM AN, subs. (old). A Thames 
waterman. Cf., ACKMAN. 

same as ACK-MAN (q.v.). 

phr. (old). To be pot-valiant ; 
' primed ' ; full of Dutch cour- 
age. See SCREWED. 

ARMPITS, verb. phr. (old). To 
sail so far to the windward of 
the law in petty larceny, that, if 
caught and tried, the punish- 
ment would not amount to more 
than transportation. On the 
passing of Sir Samuel Romilly's 
Act, capital punishment was 
abolished for high way robberies 
under 403. in value. Hence, for- 

ARMPITS was to avoid the halter 



or NECK-SQUEEZER (q.v.), which 
is applied above the armpits. 

ARM -PR OPS, subs, (common). 
Crutches ; otherwise WOODEN 
LEGS (q.v.). 

1825. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Scene 6. Beggar : You did 
quite right ; veil, vile I can get fifteen 
bob a day by gammoning a maim, the 
devil may vork for me. If any lady or 
gemman is inclined for a dance, I'll nash 
my ARM-PROPS in a minute. 

(Throws down his crutches.) 

ARMS AND LEGS, subs. phr. (com- 
mon). Poor, weak beer, be- 
cause there is no body in it ! 


ARROW (vulgarism). A corrup- 
tion of ' e'er, a,' or ' ever a.' 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. V., 
ch. viii. ' I don't believe there is ARROW 
a servant in the house ever saw the 
colour of his money.' 

1771. SMOLLETT, Humphrey Clin- 
ker, [., 126. ' I now carries my head 
higher than ARROW private gentlewoman 
of Vales.' 

ARRY, subs. (common). The 
Christian name Harry without 
the aspirate. A popular em- 
bodiment of the vulgar, rollick- 
ing, yet on the whole good- 
tempered ' rough ' of the great 
metropolis. His ' get-up ' is, 
as he would himself put it, 
1 immense' ; he is seen to most 
advantage his own on Sun- 
days and bank holidays ; 
his ' young woman ' generally 
1 Arriet ' is en suite ; taken 
altogether he is a lively, jovial, 
but ill-bred 'cuss.' Mr. Punch 
in an inimitable series of 
sketches has ' hit off ' his man 

1880. MILLIKIN, Punch's Almanac. 
JANUARY ! Tailor's bill comes in. 
Blow that blooming snip! I'm short ot 


Werry much enjoyed my autumn Caper, 
But three quid fifteen do look queer 


Want another new rig out, wuss luck, 
Gurl at Boodle's bar seems awful struck. 
Like to take her to pantermime ; 
That and O) sters after would be prime. 
Fan's a screamer; this top coat would 

blue it, 

Yaller at the seams, black ink wont do it. 
Wonder if old snip would spring another? 
Boots, too. rayther seedy ; beastly bother! 
Lots o" larks that empty pockets 'queer.' 
Can't do much on fifty quid a year. 
FEBRVWARY ! High old time for sprees ! 
Now's yer chance the gals to please or 


Dowds to guy and pooty ones' to wheedle, 
And give all rival chaps the needle. 
Crab your enemies, I've got a many, 
You can pot 'em proper for a penny. 
My ! them walentines do 'it 'em 'ot. 
First-rate fun : I always buy a lot. 
Prigs complain they're spiteful, lor* wot 


I can't ever get 'em strong enough. 
Safe too ; no one twigs your little spree, 
If you do it on the strict Q.T. * 

If you're spoons, a flowery one's your 


Mem. I sent a proper one to Fan. 
MARCH ! I'm nuts upon a windy day, 
Gurls do get in such a awful way. 
Petticoats yer know, and pooty feet ; 
Hair all flying, tell you it's a treat. 
Pancake day. Don't like 'em flabby, 


Rayther do a pennorth o' plum-duff. 
Seediness shows up as Spring advances, 
Ah ! the gurls do lead us pretty dances. 
Days a-lengthening, think I spotted Fan 
Casting sheep's eyes at another man. 
Quarter-day, too, no more chance of tick, 
Fancy I shall 'ave to cut my stick. 
Got the doldrums dreadful, that is clear, 
Two d left ! must go and do a beer ! 
APRIL 1 All Fools' Day's a proper time, 
Cop old gurls and guy old buffers prime. 
Scissors! don't they goggle and look 

When you land them with a regular 

'do? ' 
Lor! the world would not be worth a 

If there warn't no fools to cheek and 

Then comes Easter. Got some coin in 


Trot a bonnet out and do the grand. 
Fan all flounce and flower ; fellows mad, 




Heye us henvious ; nuts to me, my lad. 
'Ampstead ! 'Ampton ! Which is it to be ? 
Fan no flat prefers the Crystal P. 
Nobby togs, high jinks, and lots o' lotion, 
That's the style to go it, I've a notion ! 
MAY ! The month o' flowers. Spooney 


' Rum 'ot with,' is wot/ likes to smell. 
Beats yer roses holler. A chice weed, 
Licks all flowers that ever run to seed. 
Nobby button 'oler very well, 
When one wants to do the 'eavy swell ; 
Otherwise don't care not one brass 

For the best ever blowed in Covent 

Fan, though, likes 'em, costs a pretty 


Rayther stiff, a tanner for a smile. 
Blued ten bob last time I took 'er out, 
Left my silver ticker up the spout. 
Women are sech sharks ! If I don't drop 


Guess that I shall come a hawful crop- 
JUNE 1 A jolly month; sech stunning 

weather I 

Fan and I have lots of outs together : 
Rorty on the river, sech prime 'unts, 
Foul the racers, run into the punts. 
Prime to 'ear the anglers rave and cuss, 
When in quiet ' swims ' we raise a muss. 
Snack on someone's lawn upon the 


Won't the owner raise a tidy riot 
When he twigs our scraps and broken 

bottles ? 

Cheaper this than rusty-rongs or bottles. 
Whitsuntide 'ud be a lot more gay 
If it warn't so near to Quarter-day. 
Snip turns sour, pulls ' county-courting ' 


Must try and land a little on the races. 
At JULY ! just nicked a handy fiver, 
(Twenty-five to one on old ' Screw- 
driver ' ! 
New rig-out. This mustard colour 


Suits me nobly. Fan appears a fixture. 
Gurls like style, you know, and colour 

ketches 'em, 
But good show of ochre, that's what 

fetches 'em. 

Wimbledon ! I'm not a wolunteer, 
Discipline don't suit this child no 


But we 'ave fine capers at the camp, 
Proper, but for that confounded scamp : 
Punched my 'ead, because I guyed his 


Fan I fancied rather 'igh faluting ; 
Ogled the big beggar as he propped me, 
Would 'a licked 'im if she 'adn't stopped 

AUGUST 1 Time to think about my out- 
No dibs yet, though, so it's no use 


Make the best of the Bank 'Oliday. 
Fan ' engaged ' ! Don't look too bloomin' 


Drop into the bar to do a beer. 
Twig her talking to that volunteer. 
Sling my 'ook instanter sharp and short, 
Took Jemimer down to 'Ampton Court, 
Not arf bad that gurl. Got rather 


Little toff complained as I was rude. 
'It 'im in the wind, he went like death ; 
Weak, consumptive cove and short o' 

Licked 'im proper, dropped 'im like a 


Only wish that Fan had seen that lot. 
'Ere's SEPTEMBER ! 'Oliday at last ! 
Off to Margit mean to go it fast. 
Mustard-coloured togs still fresh as 


Like to know who's natty, if I ain't. 
Got three quid ; have cried a go with 


Game to spend my money like a man. 
But stickin' tight to one gal ain't no 


Here's no end of prime 'unson the run 
Carn't resist me somehow, togs and tile 
All Ai make even swell ones smile. 
Lor ! if I'd the ochre, make no doubt 
I could cut no end of big pots out. 
Call me cad ? When money's in the 


Cad and swell are pooty much the same. 
Now OCTOBER ! Back again to collar, 
Funds run low, reduced to last 'arf 


Snip on rampage, boots a getting thin, 
'Ave to try the turf to raise some tin. 
Evenings gettinggloomy; high old games; 
Music 'alls look up the taking names. 
Proper swells them pros ! If I'd had my 

There's my mark. Just wish I'd got a 

voice ; 

Cut the old den to-morrow, lots o'cham, 
Cabs and diamonds ain't that real jam? 
Got the straight tip for the Siezerwitch, 
If I honly land it, I'll be rich. 
Guess next mornin' wouldn't find me 


Allays get the blues about October. 
Dull NOVEMBER! Didn't land that lot. 
Fear my father's son is going to pot. 
Fan jest passed me, turned away 'er 


Guess she ranked me with the other 

larks upon the Ninth, my joker 
But it queers a chap to want the ochre. 




Nothing like a crowd for regular sprees, 

Ain't it fine to do a rush, and squeeze ? 

Twig the women fainting! oh, it's pro- 

Bonnet buffers when the blooming cop- 

Can't get near yer nohow. Then the 
fogs ! 

Rare old time for regular jolly dogs. 

If a chap's a genuine 'ot member, 

He can keep the game up in November ! 

Dun DECEMBER! Dismal, dingy, dirty. 

Still short commons makes a chap feel 

Snip rampageous, drops a regular sum- 

Fan gets married ; ah ! them gurls is rum 

After all the coin I squandered on 'er ! 

Want it now. A 'eap too bad, 'pon hon- 

Snow ! ah, that's yer sort though, and 
no error, 

Treat to twig the women scud in terror. 

Hot 'un in the eye for that old feller ; 

Cold 'un down 'is neck, burst his um- 

Ha! ha! then Christmas, 'ave a jolly 
feast ! 

The Boss will drop a tip, 'ope so, at 

If I don't land some tin, my look-out's 

Well, let's drink, boys ' Better luck next 
year ! ' 

ARSE, subs. (low). The posterior; 
the breech ; the fundament. Once 
in polite use, but now considered 
very vulgar. As Grose in his 
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue 
[1785] prints the word thus, 
1 a e,' it is evident that it had 
then fallen into disfavour, 
Murray traces the word back to 
about A.D.IOOO. [AL.S.,ears,ceurs; 
Icelandic and Swedish, ars ; 
Danish, arts, and German, arsch] . 
1000 (circa). ^ELFRIC, Glossary in 
Wright, 44-2 [.Nates, EARS-lyeJ . [M.] 

1480. CAXTON, Chronicles of England, 
ccxxvi., 233. They lete hange fox tailles 
.... to hele and hyde her ARSES. 

1663. BUTLER, Hudibras I., iii., 964. 
Then mounted both upon their Horses, 
But with their Faces to the ARSES. [M.] 
1704. SWIFT, Battle of the Books (1711), 
235. Do you think I have nothing else 
to do but to mend and repair after your 
ARSE [i.e., behind you, in your rear]. 

HEAVY-ARSE, a hulking, lazy 
fellow ; a sluggard. 

1530. PALSGRAVE, 436, 2. What up, 
HEAVY-ARSE, cannest thou nat aryse ? [M.] 

TO HANG THE ARSE, to hang 

or hold back ; to be afraid to 

1633. MASSINGER, Guardian, V., v. 
Nay, no HANGING AN ARSE. [M.] 

ARSE-UPWARDS in good luck. 

1600 (circa). Timon I., 5 (1842), 20. 
This man this daye rose with his ARSE 
UPWARDS : To daye a fidler, and at night 
a noble. 

Also such forms as ARSE- 
BOARD, the tail board of a cart 
this is still dialectical ; ARSE- 
GUT, the rectum ; ARSE-LONG ; 
ARSE-PUSH, a heavy backward 
fall ; ARSE-ROPES, the intestines. 

ARSE-COOLER, subs. (low). A bus- 
tle or dress-improver. [From 
ARSE, see preceding + COOLER; 
in reference to the manner in 
which this article of feminine 
attire extends the dress, and 
prevents it clinging to the part 
of the body referred to.] 

For synonyms, see BIRD-CAGE. 

ARS-MUSICA, subs. (low). The 
podex when used as a noisy vent. 
A play upon words. 

ARST (vulgarism). A mispronun- 
ciation of ' asked. 1 

and adj. (low). Topsy-turvy; 
topside t'other way ; heels over 
head ; or ' the cart before the 
horse." [From ARSE + Latin 
versus ' to turn, 1 following 
model onamatopoetic com- 
pounds like ' hirdie-girdie,' 
'higgledy-piggledy,' etc.] Once 
in polite use, but now confined 
to the low and vulgar. 

A rter. 

74 Articles of Virtue. 

1539. TAVERNER, Erasm. Prov. 
(1552), 62. Ye set the cart before the 
horse . . . cleane contrarily, and ARSY- 
VERSY as they say. 

1728. BAILEY, Dictionary. ARSY- 
VERSEY, topsy-turvy, preposterously, 
perversely, without order. 

Still dialectical. See English 
Dialect Society's Glossaries, 
eg., West Somerset Word Book. 

A RTER (vulgarism). An incorrect 
pronunciation of ' after.' 

ARTESIAN, subs. (Australian). In 
Gippsland, Victoria, a well- 
known and popular brew of 
beer is manufactured with water 
obtained from an artesian well 
at Sale and hence ARTESIAN 
as a common nickname for all 
Colonial beer. See also CAS- 

English synonyms for beer 
will be found under SWIPES. 

ARTFUL DODGER, subs, (rhyming and 
thieves' slang). i. A lodger. 

1881. New York Slang Dictionary. 
ARTFUL DODGERS, fellows who dare not 
sleep twice in the same place for fear of 

2. An expert thief. The 
ARTFUL DODGER in Dickens' 
' Oliver Twist ' will occur to 
mind in this connection. 

sailor's game, thus described, 
in effect, by Grose. When 
near the line, or in a hot lati- 
tude, a man who is to represent 
King Arthur, is ridiculously 
dressed, having a large wig 
made out of oakum, or some 
old swabs. He is seated on the 
side, or over a large vessel of 
water, and every person in turn 
is ceremoniously introduced to 
him, and has to pour a bucket 

of water over him, crying out, 
1 Hail, King Arthur ! ' If during 
the ceremony the person intro- 
duced laughs or smiles (to which 
his majesty endeavours to ex- 
cite him by all sorts of ridicu- 
lous gesticulations), he changes 
places with, and then becomes 
King Arthur, till relieved by 
some brother tar who has as 
little command over his muscles 
as himself. See also AMBASSA- 

ARTICHOKE, subs. (American 
thieves'). An aged prostitute 
of the lowest type. For general 
synonyms, see BARRACK HACK. 

ARTICLE, subs, (popular). i. A 
term of contempt for a worth- 
less or insignificant person or 
animal 'A pretty ARTICLE he 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
ch. xxvi., p. 268. You're a nice ARTICLE, 
to turn sulky on first coming home ! 

2. A woman. In this sense 
generally current at the be- 
ginning of the century ' a 
prime ARTICLE,' a handsome girl, 
or, as the Lexicon Balatronicum 
[1811] has it, ' a hell of a goer.' 

1857. A. TROLLOPE, Three Clerks, 
ch. xxxi. ' She'd never have done for 
you, you know; and she's the very 
ARTICLE for such a man as Peppermint. 

See also SAPPY for English 
and foreign synonyms. 

ARTICLES, siibs. (thieves'). A suit 
of clothes. Formerly current 
in England [circa 1780-1825] ; 
now surviving principally 
amongst American thieves. 

(popular). Virgins. A play 
upon the word ' virtue,' in 




allusion to the absence of 
defloration ; and also upon vertu 
in its special English usage. 

ARTIST, subs. (American thieves'). 
An adroit rogue ; a skilful 
gamester. N.Y.S.D. 

phr. (common). Generally em- 
ployed with such adjectives as 
'hot,' 'drunk,' 'bad,' etc.; e.g., 


1889. Bird o 1 Freedom, Aug. [7, p. 3. 
On reaching the party it was evident 
that one of the Frenchmen was, not to 
put too fine a point on it, about AS DRUNK 
AS THEY MAKE 'EM. He opened the cam- 
paign by asking us to have a drink with 
him. Of course, he spoke in French. 

ASIA MINOR, subs, (popular). The 
Kensington and Bayswater dis- 
tricts in London, on account of 
the many Anglo-Indians who, 
on their retirement, take refuge 
therein. The nickname, how- 
ever, is a double-barrelled one, 
inasmuch as this quarter is also 
the headquarters of the Greek 
community in the metropolis. 
Sobriquets of the kind are not 
infrequent. The district be- 
tween Maida Vale and St. Peter's 
Park, Paddington, is called 'the 
New Jerusalem,' because of the 
large number of Jews who live 
there ; and the same reason has 
given an exactly identical appel- 
lation to Brighton, while Chel- 
tenham is nicknamed ' the 
Black Hole ' from its numerous 
Anglo-Indian residents. 

A sketch appeared under the 
title of ' The Ladies in Parlia- 
ment ' in Macmillan's Magazine 
[Nov., 1866] , wherein Tyburnia 
was described as ' the pension'd 
Indian's undisturbed retreat.' 

1888. Daily News, g Feb., p. 2, col. 
5. The Ladbroke Hall, Notting-hill . . 

... is in the centre of a district where 
Indians in the British metropolis mostly 
congregate, a circumstance which has 
acquired for this part of London the 
nickname of ASIA MINOR, by which it 
is sometimes called. 

ASK BOGY i phr. (old nautical 
slang). An evasive reply. 

ASKEW, subs, (old cant). A cuppe. 
H airman [1567] . 


1866. W. D. HOWELLS, Venetian 
Life, ch. xviii. It is wet and slimy 
underfoot, and the innumerable gigantic 
eels, writhing everywhere, set the soul 

Ass, subs, (printers'). A compo- 
sitor, so nicknamed by press- 
men, who, in turn, are called 
PIGS (q.v.). Ass is sometimes 
varied by DONKEY. In French 
printing offices compositors are 
called mulcts, i.e., ' mules.' 

ASSAY IT! intj. (American thieves'). 
Commence ! try it ! Obvious- 
ly from the verb 'to assay, 1 
and probably introduced by 
counterfeit coiners. 

ASSIG., subs. (old). An assigna- 
tion. Grose. 

ASTE, subs, (old cant). Nares 
quotes this as an old cant term 
for money. For modern syno- 
nyms, see ACTUAL. 

1612. The Passenger of Benyenuto. 
These companions, who in the phisiono- 
mie of their forehead, eyes, and nose, 
carry the impression and marke of the 
pillerie galley, and of the halter, they 
call the purse a leafe, and a fleece; 
money, cuckoes, and ASTE, and crowns. 

ASTRONOMER, SM&S. (old). A horse 
which carries its head high. 

Athanasian Wench. 


ATHANASIAN WENCH, subs. (old). 
A forward, abandoned woman, 
of obliging disposition one who 
practises prostitution from libid- 
inous desire rather than for gain. 
synonyms, see BARRACK HACK. 

ATLANTIC-RANGER, subs, (common). 
A herring. The derivation is 
too obvious to need particular- 

1883. Good Words, p. 378. Peas- 
pudding, and hard-boiled eggs, rubbing 
shoulders, as it were, with ATLANTIC 
RANGERS (i.e., red herrings). 

Among other curious syno- 
nyms for this fish may be men- 
which see. A very common re- 
quest at Lockhart's coffee- 
houses in London is for ' a 
door step and a sea rover,' i.e., 
a halfpenny slice of bread and 
butter and a herring. 

ATMOSPHERE, subs. (American). 
By the ATMOSPHERE of a thing, 
whether book, church, or indi- 
vidual, is meant its tone or 
influence. ATMOSPHERE is one 
of the most recent introduc- 
tions into the canting-slang 
phraseology of ' Culchaw, don't 
you know ! ' It belongs to the 
same category as that which 
employs awfully and dreadfully 
for ' very ' ; or lovely for any- 
thing pleasing, etc. The num- 
ber of legitimate words per- 
verted from their legitimate 
meanings and used in senses 
oftentimes ludicrous is much 
larger than most people would 
care to admit. 

ATOMY, subs, (familiar). i. A 
diminutive, or deformed person. 
[From a jocular pronunciation 
of ' anatomy.'] As will be seen 
from the historical examples 
which follow, this expression 
has been in the mouths of the 
English people for at least 300 

1595. SHAKSPEARE, Romeo and Juliet, 
iv., i., 57. 
.... I see, Queen Mab hath been with 

She is the fairies' midwife ; and she 


In shape no bigger than an agate-stone 
On the forefinger of an alderman, 
Drawn with a team of little ATOMIES, 
Athwart men's noses as they fall asleep. 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, 2 Henry IV., 
v., 4, 33. Host. Thou ATOMY, thou ! 

Dot. Come, you thin thing, come, 
you rascal. 

1822. SCOTT, The Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. iii. ' He was an ATOMY when he 
came up from the North, and I am sure 
he died ... at twenty stone weight.' 

1866. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. ix. A miserable little ATOMY, more 
deformed, more diminutive, more muti- 
lated than any beggar in a bowl. 

1884. Cornhill Magazine, May, p. 
478. ' And ATOMY scarecrow and ATOMY, 
what next will you call me ? Yet you 
want to marry me ! 

1886. Miss BRADDON, Mohawks, ch. 
xxii. ' How lovely his young wife looks 
to-night; lovely enough to keep that poor 
old ATOMY in perpetual torment." 

2. (American thieves'). 
Amongst the fraternity ATOMY 
has the special meaning of an 
empty-headed person, and not 
necessarily one deformed or of 
small, mean stature. 

For synonyms, in first sense, 
see SAPPY. 

ATTACK, verb, (common). A jocu- 
lar rendering of the legitimate 
word ; to commence operations, 
not necessarily, however, with 
the idea of force, which is al- 
ways associated with the pro- 
per usage. Also as a subs. 

At That. 



f 1812. COMBE (Dr. Syntax), Pictur. 
xvii., 62. The Doctor then . . . pro- 
nounced the grace . . . The fierce AT- 
TACK was soon begun. 

1849. THACKERAY, Pendennis, ch. i. 
It was a double letter, and the Major 
commenced perusing the envelope be- 
fore he ATTACKED the inner epistle. 

AT THAT, adv. phr. (American and 
Australian). An intensitive 
phrase tacked on to the end of 
an assertion or statement al- 
ready made. 'He's a slick 
'cute rascal, and a pretty demon 
AT THAT,' i.e., he is a rascal of 
rascals, an adept at villainy. 
It is a purely cant phrase, and 
has achieved a degree of popu- 
larity quite out of proportion 
to its merits if any. Proctor 
suggests that the expression is 
an abbreviation of ' added to 
that,' but others regard it as 
the German dazu, a theory 
which is not improbable, in 
view of the large German ele- 
ment in the States. 

1882. PINKERTON'S Mollie Maguires 
and Detectives. A miner from Wades- 
ville, was spoken of as an ancient 
Mollie Cooney being actually what the 
detective assumed to be, and a sharp 
one AT THAT. 

1888. Forest and Stream, March 15. 
Worth a year's subscription, and cheap 

1888. New York Herald, July 22. 
Who would have supposed that the self- 
contained Mr. French, the icily regular 
T. Henry French, with a disposition as 
undemonstrative as the Alpine edel- 
weiss, would suffer his temper to go 
away because of the loss of a hat 
aye, and of an old hat AT THAT. 

ATTIC or ATTIC-STOREY, subs, (com- 
mon). The head, from its be- 
ing the highest or crowning 
member, the body being figura- 
tively regarded as a house. 
Sometimes UPPER-STOREY. For 
synonyms, see CRUMPET. 

1870. ALFORD, in Life (1873), 467. 

Tolerably well all day, but the noise in 
the ATTIC unremoved 

Drunk ; also weak-minded, or 

ATTIC-SALT, subs, (literary). Well- 
turned phrases spiced with wit 
and humour. A reference to the 
peculiar style and idiom of the 
Greek language as used by the 
Athenians, and, says Hotten, 
' partly a sly hit at the well- 
known poverty of many writers." 
Whether so, or not, the phrase 
is one of long standing. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.) 
In Philology, we say ATTIC-SALT, for a 
delicate, poignant kind of wit and hum- 
our after the Athenian manner, who 
were particular in this way. 

1779. SHERIDAN, The Critic, Act i., 
Sc. 2. I have the plot from the author, 
and only add characters strongly 
drawn highly coloured hand of a 
master fund of genuine humour mine 
of invention neat dialogue ATTIC- 

1848. JAS. HANNAY, King Dobbs, ch. 
ix., p. 129 (1856). ' If you joke in that 
style, we'll lose the day,' said Dobbs. 
who had some quiet homely supersti- 
tions. ' What ? is it unlucky to spill 
ATTIC-SALT, as well as the ordinary 
kind ? ' 

ATTLEBOROUGH. subs. (American). 
Sham jewelry ; used in pre- 
cisely the same manner as 
1 Brummagem,' and as widely 
applied to men and things. It 
has passed from the classics 
of thief dom into general use, 
and is applied to anything of a 
sham, pinchbeck, insincere, or 
doubtful character. Attle- 
borough is a town celebrated 
for its manufacture of trashy 

ATTORNEY, sribs. (popular). A 
drumstick of goose, or turkey, 
grilled and devilled. [From 

A ttorney -General's Devil. 7 8 


DEVIL = a lawyer who does 
routine work for another = 

1828. G. GRIFFIN, Collegians, ch. 
xiii. ' I love a plain beef steak before a 
grilled ATTORNEY.' 

(Thieves'). A shrewd, and 
often not over honest or 
scrupulous man who, possess- 
ing some knowledge of the law, 
acts in the capacity of legal 
adviser to those of the ' crooked 
craft' unfortunate enough to 
need assistance. Such men 
are generally solicitors and 
others whose names have been 
struck off the rolls, as also, 
occasionally, solicitors' clerks 
who have otherwise failed in 
life. Their practices are shady, 
but their fees are low. 


AUCTIONEER. A phrase bor- 
rowed from the sale room, and 
signifying ' to knock a man 

1863. G. A. SALA, Breakfast in Bed, 
Essay I., p. 4 (1864). And who, in return 
for a craven blow, can DELIVER THE 
AUCTIONEER well over the face and eyes. 

AUDIT - ALE, subs. (Cambridge 
Univ.). A special brew of ale, 
peculiar to Trinity College, 
made in the first instance for 
draught on audit days, whence 
its name. 

1837. BARHAM, Ingoldsby Legends 

(Lay of S. Dunstan). 

To be sure the best beer 
Of all did not appear, 

For I've said 'twas in June, and so late 
in the year 

The ' Trinity AUDIT ALE ' is not come-at- 

As I've found to my great grief when 
dining at that table. 

1876. TREVELYAN, Life of Macaulay 
(1884), ch. iv., p. 127. A glass of the 
AUDIT ALE, which reminded him that he 
was still a fellow of Trinity. 


AUGER, subs. (American thieves'). 
A person given to prosiness is 
so called ; a bore. 

AUGHT, subs, (vulgarism). A com- 
mon illiteracy for ' naught ' 
when naming the cipher ' o '. 

AULD HORNIE, subs, (common). 
One of the numerous nick- 
names given to the devil. Others 
are, old nick ; old scratch ; old 
Harry ; skipper ; old gentle- 
man ; deuce ; dickens ; ruffian, 
etc. See SKIPPER for synonyms. 

AULD REEKIE (popular). A sobri- 
quet for the old town of Edin- 
burgh. It means ' old smoky. 1 
Of late years it has been applied 
to the whole city. 

1806. Miss PITMAN, in C. K. Sharpe's 
Correspondence (1888), i., 271. We are 
within two hours-and-a-half of AULD 

1816. SCOTT, Antiquary, ch. vi. 
1 And what news do you bring us from 
Edinburgh, Montkbarns ? ' said Sir 
Arthur ; ' how wags the world in AULD 

1889. Colonies and India, July 24, 
p. 10, col. i. The Australasian Colony 
in AULD REEKIE is prospering apace, 
and it may soon be necessary to plant 
some gum trees along Princes Street to 
meet the growing demands of the popu- 

AULY-AULY, subs. (Win. Coll.). 
A game formerly played in 
' Grass Court ' on Saturday 
afternoons after chapel. It 
consisted in throwing an india- 
rubber ball at one another, and 



Autem, Autum. 

everybody was obliged to go 
down and join in it. ' Haul ye, 
call ye,' is the supposed deriva- 
tion ; but, as the game, though 
in vogue in 1830, was not 
played as late as 1845, there 
is some difficulty in defining 
it in detail. 

AUNT, subs. (old). Applied, especi- 
ally during the Elizabethan 
period, to either a procuress, a 
prostitute, or a concubine. It 
survived till the commencement 
of the present century and 
then gradually died out. For 
synonyms, see MOTHER. 

1608. MIDDLE-TON, Trick to Catch 
the Old One, II., i. Was it not then 
better bestowed upon his uncle than 
upon one of his AUNTS ? I need not say 
bawd, for everyone knows what AUNT 
stands for in the last translation. 

1623. SHAKSPEAR, Winter's Tale, 
iv., 3. 

Summer songs for me and my aunts, 
While we lie tumbling in the hay. 


(common). To go to the W.C. 

AUNT SALLY, subs, (familiar). A 
well-known game, common to 
race-courses and fairs, which 
consists in throwing short staves 
at a wooden head mounted on 
a stick, placed upright in the 
ground, and forming a kind of 
target. In the mouth of the 
image is placed a clay pipe, and 
the object of the player, who 
stands at say twenty or thirty 
yards distance, is to demolish 
this. The amusement is not 
unlike the more popular ' three 
shies a penny." The origin of 
AUNT SALLY is wrapped in mys- 
tery ; nor is it known whether 
she is any relation to the black 
lady whose effigy some few 
years since was frequently to 

be met with suspended outside 
the shops of rag and ' marine 
store ' dealers. A writer in 
Notes and Queries [2 S., x., 117] 
affirms that AUNT SALLY is the 
heroine of a popular negro 
melody, in which the old lady 
meets with several ludicrous 
adventures, but evidence in 
support of this theory is at 
present wanting. 

1866. G. A. SALA, Gaslight and Day- 
light, ch. i., p. ii. They will go to Epsom 
by the rail, and create disturbances 
on the course, and among the ' sticks ' 

1883. Punch, June z, p. 264, col. i. 
The average number of ' chucks ' at 
cocoa-nuts before achieving success is 
six, and of 'shies' at AUNT SALLY, four. 

Au RESERVOIR ! intj. phr. (common). 
An revoir. A mere play upon 
sounds. Common in America, 
where it originated, and now 
often heard in England. 

AUSTRALIAN FLAG, subs. (Anglo- 
Australian). The tail of a 
shirt, when, after exertion, it 
rucks up in folds between the 
trousers and the waistcoat an 
'up-country ' phrase. See CORN- 

AUSTRALIAN GRIP, subs. (Australian). 
A hearty shake of the hands. 

AUTEM, AUTUM, AUTOM, subs, (old 
cant). A church. The term 
first appears in Harman's 
Caveat [1573] ; again in Row- 
land's Martin Mark-all [1610] ; 
in Head's English Rogue 
[1665] ; in Cole's English Dic- 
tionary [1724] ; in Grose's 
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue 
[1785] , and in Buncombe's 
Sinks of London Laid Open [1848]. 
See also AUTEM MORT. 

Adi. Married. So quoted in 

A utem-Bawler. 


Cole's English Dictionary, whence 


AUTEM-BAWLER, subs, (old cant). 
A parson. [From AUTEM (q.v.), 
a church + BAWLER, a speaker.] 
For modern English and foreign 
synonyms, see GOSPEL SHARK. 
Other ancient expressions for 
a clergyman are AUTEM-JET, 


PRICKER ; the last two named, 
however, apply, as a rule, only 
to Dissenters. 

AUTEM-CACKLER, subs, (old cant). 
A Dissenter; sometimes specially 
applied to Dissenting ministers. 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 260. 'On 
one occasion a Jew was selling 
cocoa-nut, when the AUTEM-CACKLER, 
i.e., Dissenting minister, came and wan- 
ted to impart to the Israelite the sin he 
committed in carrying on his vocation 
on such a day [Sunday]. The Jew half 
listened to what the other said, but kept 
on calling out " Cocoa-nut a half-penny 
a slice, a very nice cocoa-nut cocoa- 
nut ! " ' 

2. A married woman. See 
AUTEM. In this sense it is used 
in a canting song in the New 
York Slang Dictionary, first pub- 
lished in 1881, and which, as a 
specimen of the verse affected 
by the light-fingered fraternity, 
it may not be out of place to 
give entire. It should be read 
in connection with the remarks 



' Oh ! where will be the culls of the 

bing (2) 

A hundred stretches hence ? 
The bene morts (3), who sweetly sing, 

A hundred stretches hence ? 

coves (4), 

The jolly blade who wildly roves ; 
And where the buffer (5), bruiser (6), 
blowen (7), 

And all the cops (8) and beaks (9) so 

knowin ' 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

'And where the swag (10), so bleakly (n) 

pinched (12), 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

The thimbles (13), slang (14), and danglers 

(15) niched, 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

The chips (16), the fawneys (17), chatty- 
feeders (18), 

The bugs (19), the boungs (20), and well- 
filled readers (21); 

And where the fence (22) and snoozing- 
ken (23), 

With all the prigs (24) and lushing 

men (25), 
A hundred stretches hence ? 

' Played out they lay, it will be said 

A hundred stretches hence ; 
With shovels they were put to bed (26) 

A hundred stretches since! 
Some rubbed to wit had napped a 

winder (27), 
And some were scragged (28) and took a 

blinder (29), 

Planted the swag and lost to sight, 
We'll bid them, one and all, good-night, 

A hundred stretches hence.' 

i, Stretch, a year ; 2, culls of the bing 
innkeepers, publicans ; 3, bene morts, 
pretty girls or women ; 4, autumn cove, 
married men ; 5, buffer, smuggler, rogue, 
or cheat; 6, bruiser, prostitute's bully or 
prize-fighter; 7, blowen, a showy pros- 
titute ; 8, cop, policeman ; 9, beak, a magis- 
trate; 10, swag, plunder, proceeds of 
robbery; u, bleakly, cleverly, also hand- 
some ; 12, pinched, stolen ; 13, thimble, a 
watch ; 14, slang, a watch chain ; 15, 
danglers, a bunch of seals ; 16, chips, 
money; 17, fawney, a ring; 18, chatty- 
feeder, a spoon ; 19, bug, a breast pin ; 
20, boung, a purse ; 21, reader, a pocket- 
book ; 22, fence, a receiver of stolen 
goods; 23, snoozing-ken, a brothel; 24, prig, 
a thief; 25, lushing-men, drinking-men ; 
26, put to bed with a shovel, buried ; 27, to 
nap a winder to nap, to cheat, winder, 
a life sentence ; 28, scragged, hanged ; 29, 
to take a blinder, to drown oneself. 

AUTEM CACKLE TUB, subs, (old cant). 
The meeting house of Dis- 
senters of every description. 
Also a pulpit. 

AUTEM-COVE, subs, (old cant). 
A married man. [From AUTEM 
(q.v.}, a church -f- COVE, a man.] 

. A titem- Dippers. 8l A utem Quaver-Tub. 


subs, (old cant). i. Formerly 
a nickname for Baptists, from 
their practice of immersing 
adult converts, as distinguished 
from infant sprinkling. 

2 . Pickpockets who practised 
in churches were called AUTEM- 
DIVERS ; also churchwardens 
and overseers of the poor who 
defrauded, deceived, and im- 
posed upon the parish. 

AUTEM-GOGLERS, subs, (old cant) . 
Pretended French prophets 
Grose. Conjurors, fortune- 
tellers Duncombe. 

AUTEM-JET, subs, (old cant). A 
parson. [From AUTEM, a 
church + JET, black, in allu- 
sion to the black garments 
usually worn by 'the cloth.'] 
For some curious synonyms, see 

AUTEM, or AUTENI-MORT, subs, (old 
cant). A married woman, i.e., 
one wedded in a church. [From 
AUTEM, a church + MORT, or 
MOT, a woman.] The term 
belongs to the oldest cant, and 
is the subject of a long descrip- 
tion in Harman's Caveat. (See 
quotation.) The old fraternity 
of vagabonds (for a full des- 
cription of which, see CADGERS 


divided into well marked classes, 
as also were the women who 
accompanied them in their 
peregrinations. The men were 
not strict monogamists, either 
as regards lawful companions 
or those of another grade 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1814), p. 
49. These AUTEM MORTES be maried 
wemen, as there be but a fewe : For 
Autem in their language is a church, so 

shee is a wyfe maried at the church, and 
they be as chaste as a cowe I have, that 
goeth to bull eury moone, with what 
bull she careth not. These walke most 
times from their husbands companye a 
moneth and more to gether.being asociate 
with another as honest as her selfe. 
These wyll pylfar clothes of hedges; 
some of them go with children of ten or 
xii years of age; yf tyme and place 
serue for their purpose, they will send 
them into some house, at the window, to 
steale and robbe, which they call in their 
language, Milling of the ken ; and wil 
go with wallets on their shoulders, and 
slates at their backes. There is one of 
these AUTEM MORTES, she is now a 
widow, of fyfty yeres old ; her name is 
Alice Milson : she goeth about with a 
couple of great boyes, the youngest of 
them is fast Upon xx yeares of 

1592. GREENE, Quip, in works IX., 
283. The pedler as bad or rather worse, 
walketh the country with his docksey 
at the least, if he have not two, his 
mortes dels, and AUTEM MORTIS. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 7 (H. Club's Reprint, 1874). Here an- 
other [complains] that they could not 
quietly take their rest in the night, nor 
keepe his AUTEM, or doxie sole vnto 

1884. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, 
bk. III., ch. v. Morts, AUTEM-MORTS, 
walking morts, dells, doxies with all 
the shades and grades of the canting 
crew, were assembled. 

Toward the end of the 
eighteenth century AUTEM- 
MORT was used as synonymous 
with a female beggar alone; 
then another meaning crept 
into the word a prostitute. 

AUTEM-PRICKEAR. The same as 


AUTEM-QUAVER, subs, (old cant). 
A Quaker. [From AUTEM, a 
church -f QUAVER, referring to 
the shaking, peculiar to some of 
the religious exercises of the 
Society of Friends.] 

AUTEM - QUAVER - TUB, subs, (old 

Author -Baiting. 82 Avuncular -Relation. 

cant). A Quaker's meeting- 
house ; also a desk therein. 

AUTHOR-BAITING, subs, (theatrical). 
Calling the author of an un- 
successful play before the 
curtain, and then, wanting all 
sense of decency and feeling, to 
overwhelm him with every 
imaginable source of annoy- 
ance yelling, hooting, bellow- 
ing, etc. 

AVAST! intj. (nautical). Hold on! 
Stop! Shut up! Stow it! etc., 
etc. No word perhaps has 
more suggested derivations than 
AVAST ! Webster writes it 
down as from the Italian basta, 
enough ; literally, it suffices, 
from bastare, to suffice. He 
does not, however, seem to 
have been altogether certain, 
for he queries whether it is 
not a worn-down form of the 
Dutch houd vast, hou' vast, 
hold fast ! a derivation which 
Dr. Murray endorses as ' pro- 
bable ' in his New Dictionary 
of the English Language. Bear- 
ing in mind that AVAST, 
although used colloquially is 
first and foremost a sailor's 
term, this derivation does not 
seem far-fetched ; for, the 
Dutch having been themselves 
one of the great maritime 
nations of the past, it is not 
unlikely that the term should 
have come from them, especially 
when it is borne in mind that 
a large proportion of nautical 
terms are so derived. 

Such are boom ; sprit ; reef ; 
schooner ; skate ; sloop ; stiver ; 
taffrail ; yacht (jaghten, ' to 
chase'), etc. 

On the other hand, as regards 
the Italian basta, it is only fair to 
point out that French work- 

men use basta, in the sense of 
enough ! no more ! The same 
term occurs also in the Spanish. 
Hotten connects it with the 
old cant BYNGE A WASTE, get 
out of the way ! go hence ! but 
though one cannot speak with 
certainty, this is not, on the 
face of it, apparent. There 
seems no discoverable connec- 
tion between the two; more- 
over, the comparative and 
historical method of dealing 
with slang shows us that 
AVAST in its present form and 
sense can be traced as far back 
as 1 68 1, within about a hundred 
years of the publication of 
Harman's Caveat where bynge 
a waste first occurs. The 
probability therefore is that the 
two terms are distinct, and 
that AVAST is derived from a 
different source to BYNGE A 
WASTE (q.v.) which, as Leland 
points out, has probably its 
origin in the Romany. 

1681. OTWAY, Soldiers' Fortune, iv., 
i. Hoa up, hoa up ; so AVAST there, sir. 

1748. SMOLLETT, Rod. Random, ch. 
xli. ' AVAST there, friend : none of your 
tricks upon travellers.' 

1751. SMOLLETT, Peregrine Pickle, 
ch. xcvii. 'And upon this scrap of paper 
no, AVAST that's my discharge from 
the parish.' 

1884. W. C. RUSSELL, Jack's Court- 
ship, ch., xiv. But AVAST now ! we've 
had enough of philosopherising. 

AVOIRDUPOIS- LAY, subs, (old 
thieves' cant). This is given by 
Grose as meaning the theft of 
brass weights off shop counters. 

mon. A pawnbroker a face- 
tious variant of UNCLE (q.v.), 
another name for the same 

A wake. 

Ax, Axe. 

AWAKE, adv. (old, and modern 
American thieves'). On the 
alert ; vigilant. Cf., WIDE- 
AWAKE, a certain kind of hat, 
so called, by-the-bye, from 
its never having a 'nap.' For 
synonyms, see FLY. 

1821. MONCRIEFF, Tom and Jerry 
(Dicks' ed., 1889), p. 6. 

Prime. From the cut of the gentle- 
man's clothes, I presume he's lately 
come from the Esquimaux Islands. 

Tom. Ha! ha! very good, Prirnefit ; 
I say, Jerry you see he's down upon 

Jerry. Yes, he's up, he's AWAKE, he's 
fly Hal ha! 

1888. DICKENS, Nich. Nickleby, 
ch. xxxix., p. 314. ' If you hear the 
waiter coming, sir, shove it in your 
pocket and look out of the window, d'ye 
hear ? ' ' I'm AWAKE, father,' replied 
the dutiful Wackford. 

AWFUL, subs, (common). A sensa- 
tional newspaper, tale, or narra- 
tion ; e.g., a penny AWFUL. 
Sometimes called a DREADFUL ; 
other names for this kind of 
mental pabulum are BLOOD AND 


Adj. Generally colloquial as 
an intensitive, conveying no 
more awe-full meaning than 
'very,' 'exceedingly,' etc. 
Strange as it may appear this 
familiar usage is very old, and 
was frequently heard north of 
the Tweed long prior to its use 
by Southrons. An intermediate 
stage was its appearance across 
the Atlantic, whence its re-intro- 
duction into the Mother Country 
may be traced. 

1834. LAMB, Gent. Giantess, Misc. 
Wks. (1871), 363. She is indeed, as the 
Americans would express it, something 


b. 1789, d. 1880. PLANCHE, Good 
Woman in the Wood. 
' A poor widow and her orphan chicks 
Left without fixtures, in an AWFUL fix. 1 

1883. HAWLEY SMART, AtFault, III., 
v., 82. ' I'm AWFUL glad you two have 
made acquaintance." 

AWFULLY, the adverbial form, 
is subjected to the same ill- 
treatment, as the following 
examples will show. 

1877. Punch's Pocket Book for 1878, 
p. 165. You should have come with us. 
It's too AWFULLY nice, as I told you I 
thought it would be. 

1878. M. E. BRADDON, Cloven Foot, 
ch. vii. 'AWFULLY,' was Miss Clare's 
chief laudatory adjective [sic] ; her su- 
perlative form of praise was ' quite too 
AWFULLY,' and when enthusiasm carried 
her beyond herself she called things 
1 nice.' ' Quite too AWFULLY nice,' was 
her maximum of rapture. 

1889. Illustrated Bits, July 13. 
' The ham of the sandwich was AWFULLY 


He said, for, oh, it was dry, 
As at first he tried to bite into the stuff, 

All in vain, how hard he would try. 
But at last, when fairly bit into the 


He found that it was all right, 
And he said, as happy as any king, 
' The bark was worse than the bite.' 

French equivalents are, bigre- 
ment; jusqu'a la troisieme capucine ; 
and pommc. 

AWKWARD-SQUAD, subs, (military 
and naval). Recruits when 
commencing to learn their drill. 

Ax, AXE, verb, (vulgar). To ask. 
Though now looked upon as a 
vulgarism, AX is still largely 
dialectical, and is really the 
most correct form of the word. 
1 Ask ' is the northern gloss 
which has gradually supplanted 
AX. The latter, down to nearly 
1600, says Dr. Murray, was the 
regular literary form. 

c. 1380. CHAUCER, Tale of Melibeus. 
Seint Jame eck saith : If eny fellow 
have neede of sapiens, AXE it of God. 

1474. CAXTON, Game of the Chesse, 
bk. III., ch. viii. He must nedes begge 
and AXE his breed. 


8 4 

Ayr shires. 

1758. A. MURPHY, The Upholsterer, 
Act i. An old crazy fool AXING your 
pardon, ma'am, for calling your father 

1768. FOOTE, Mayor of Garratt, Act 
ii., Sc. 2. Mrs. Sneak. Where is the 
puppy ? Sneak. Yes, yes, she is AXING 
for me. 

1861. H. KINGSLEY, Ravenshoe, ch. 
vi. ' I AXED her would she like to 
live in the great house, and she said 

1883. Echo, Jan. 25, p. 2, col. 3. To 
AXE, considered but a vulgarism, for to 
ask, is good Saxon. 

(American). A much - used 
phrase of political origin. Men 
are said to have AXES TO GRIND 
when suspected of selfish or 
interested motives. From poli- 
tics the expression has passed 
into use among all classes of 
society. The Chicago Daily 
Inter-Ocean (Feb. 1888) spoke 
of certain politicians as ' men 
with AXES TO GRIND.' What 

we believe is right is more often 
so because it GRINDS OUR AXE 
than otherwise. 

1871. (From Hoppe's Conversations 
Lexicon). Miner. ' Who'll turn the 
grindstones ? ' When I see a merchant 
over-polite to his customers, begging 
them to taste a little brandy, and throw- 
ing half his goods on the counter, thinks 
I, that man has an AXE TO GRIND. 

1888. Detroit Free Press, Sept. 22. 
William Black, the novelist, says the 
only AX a novelist has TO GRIND is the 

AXE-MY-EYEI subs, (cheap jacks'). 
One who is up to every trick ; 
a cute fellow. 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p, 232. 
Stow your gab and gauftery, 

To every fakement I'm a fly ; 
I never takes no fluffery, 
For I'm a regular AXE-MY-EYE. 

AYRSHIRES, subs. (Stock Ex- 
change). Glasgow and South- 
western Railway Stock. 

TLEDORE, phr. 
(old). To be 
entirely illiter- 
ate ; very igno- 
rant. This old 
cant phrase has 
several vari- 
ants, all of them alliterative in 
character. For example, NOT TO 


CHEESE, etc. Each and all in- 
dicate inability to distinguish 
between familiar objects that 
differ. Battledore is an old name 
for the hornbook from which chil- 
dren used to learn the alphabet. 

1401. Pol. Poems, II., 57. I know 
not an A from the wynd-mylne, ne a 


1609. DEKKER, Guls-Hornebooke, 3. 
You shall not neede to buy bookes ; no, 
BATTLEDORE ; onely looke that your eares 
be long enough to reach our rudiments, 
and you are made for ever. 

1846. BRACKENRIDGE, Modem Chiv- 
a ^ r y> 43- There were members who 



B (fenian). Mr. H. J. Byron, the 
playwright , in his annotated copy 
of the Slang Dictionary, mentions 

this as the title of a captain in 
the ' army of the Irish Republi- 
can Brotherhood.' 

B'S. See B FLAT. 

BABE, subs, (parliamentary). The 
last elected member of the 
House of Commons. The 
oldest representative of the 
chamber is called the FATHER 


(American). The youngest 
member of a class at the 
United States Military College 
at West Point. A term sans 
wit, sans point, sans almost 

BABE IN THE WOOD, subs. phr. (old). 
i. A victim of the law's soli- 
citude ; in other words, a culprit 
sentenced to the stocks or the 
pillory. Obsolete. 
2. Dice are also called BABES 


BABES, subs, (auctioneers'). A set 
of auction thieves, who attend 
sales for the express purpose of 
blackmail. Their modus oper- 
andi is as follows. In con- 
sideration of a small bribe of 
money or beer, or both, they 

Baboo-English. 86 


agree not to oppose the bidding 
of the larger dealers, who thus 
dishonestly keep down the price 
of lots. The practice is gener- 
ally worked in connection with 


(American). A set of Balti- 
more rowdies are so-called ; at 
various times they have also 
received the names of BLOOD 
TUBS and PLUG-UGLIES (q.v.). 

BABOO-ENGLISH, subs. (Anglo-In- 
dian). A species of 'ENGLISH 

AS SHE IS WROTE ' (q.V.}. Its 

main peculiarity is its grandilo- 
quence, a feature born of an 
attempt to adapt Western 
speech to Eastern imagery and 

BABY-HERDER, subs. (American). 
A nurse ; a simile drawn 
from life on the plains, and 
worked out with true cowboy 

BABYLON ITISH, subs. (Winchester 
College). A dressing gown. An 
abbreviated form of ' Baby- 
lonitish garment. 1 

BABY-PAP, subs, (thieves'). A cap; 
part of the so-called RHYMING 
SLANG (q.v.). 


BACCA- PIPES, subs, (common). 
Whiskers when curled in ring- 
lets, a now obsolete fashion, 

BACCARE ! BACKARE 1 intj. (old 
cant). Go back! [a humorous 
form of BACK + a simulated 
Latin termination] . In use from 
about 1553-1660. 

1592. LYLY, Midas, V., 2. The 
masculine gender is more worthy than 
the feminine. Therefore, Licio. BACKARE. 

1593. SHAKSPEARE, Taming of the 
Shrew, ii.; 

Saving your tale, Petruchio, I pray 
Let us, that are poor petitioners, speak 

BACCARE! you are marvellous forward. 


BACCY, also BACCA, subs, (com- 
mon). A corrupted form of 
1 tobacco.' Apparently of quite 
recent introduction. An equi- 
valent term in French is perlot, 
from perle. 

1833. MARRYAT, Peter Simple, ch. 
ii. ' You must larn to chaw BACCY.' 

1861. JAS. CON WAY, Forays among 
Salmon and Deer, p. 228. I lay on an 
Affghan goat-rug spread over fresh 
heather, with a pipe filled with good 
BACCY in my mouth. 

BACH or BATCH, verb. (American). 
To live as a bachelor. 

BACHELOR'S BABY, subs. (old). 
An illegitimate child. For 
synonyms, see BYE-BLOW. 

BACHELOR'S-FARE, subs, (familiar). 
Bread and cheese and kisses 
a humorous allusion to the real 
or alleged ' short^commons,' 
generally assumed to be meted 
out to a man who is unattached. 
Like many other proverbial 
sayings there is more sound 
than truth in it. 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation, 
conv. i. Lady Ans. Colonel, some ladies 
of your acquaintance have promised to 
breakfast with you, and I am to wait on 
them ; what will you give us ? Col. 
Why, faith, madam, BACHELOR'S-FARE, 
bread and cheese and kisses. 

BACK, verb, (popular). To bet or 
wager ; to support by means of 
money, kind, or influence, on 
the turf or elsewhere. From 


Back and Belly. 87 Backdoor-Trot. 

the earlier and more legitimate 
meaning to support, maintain, 
or strengthen. Possibly in the 
sense of to wager or support 
by betting, BACK can hardly 
nowadays be classed as slang ; 
there seems too, to be long and 
constant usage to support its 
claim as a regular dictionary 

(Uppingham School). At 
football, to be ready for a 

BACK, phr. (familiar). To rouse 
oneself to antipathy ; to get 
angry ; to resist. The figure 
presented is that of a cat, which, 
when irritated, arches or sets 
up its back. Also used nega- 
tively as an exhortation to keep 
one's temper. DON'T GET YOUR 
BACK UP ! For synonymous 
phrases, see HOLD YOUR HAIR 
ON ! 

voked Husband, V., iii., 112. O Lud ! 
she meets me. 

1771. SMOLLETT, Humphry Clinker, 
ch. 66. My uncle's BACK WAS UP in a 
moment ; and he desired him to explain 
his pretensions. 

1855. THACKERAY, Newcomes, ch. 
xvi. ' I know she is nighty, and that ; and 
Brian's BACK is UP a little. But he ain't 
a bad fellow ; and I wish I could see you 
and his wife better friends.' 

1883. GREENWOOD, Grandmother 
Cooper, in Odd People in Odd Places, p 2. 
1 You don't know what you're sayin' ; 
therefore you don't mean no harm. If 
so be you think what you just now said, 
keep it to yourself, don't say it to me. 
It SETS MY BACK UP, and when my 
back's set up I'm sometimes orkard.' 

(old). To deceive successfully. 

BACK AND BELLY, phr. (vulgar). 
i . Back and before ; all over. 


BELLY, phr. (old). To feed and 
clothe. Cf., BELLY-TIMBER and 

BACK-BREAKER, subs, (common). 
One who sets, or that which is, 
an example of more than ordinary 
human powers of endurance ; 
e.g., in pedestrianism or racing 
a man or horse whose pace is 
considerably over the average. 
In sporting phraseology he or 
it is called a SCORCHER (q.v.) 
and the pace of such is also 
eloquently called ' killing.' 
BACK-BREAKING is therefore 
synonymous with excessive 
exertion or effort of all kinds. 

phr. (American). To expose; 
to reveal what one knows of 
another, in a detrimental sense. 

1883. MARK TWAIN, Life on the 
Mississippi, p. 462. [A pretended con- 
verted thief is made to say] : i told him 
all about my being in prison and about 
you, and how i had almost done giving 
up looking for work and how the Lord 
got me the job when i asked him . . . 
. . and then i felt better than ever i had 
done in my life, for i had given Mr. 
Brown a fair start with me and now i 
didn't fear no one GIVING ME A BACK- 
CAP and running me off the job. 

BACK-CHEAT, subs, (old cant). A 
cloak. Also called a WRAP- 
RASCAL (q.v.). 


THE BACK-DOOR, subs. phr. (com- 
mon) . A sodomist ; formerly 


vice itself is called BACK-DOOR 
WORK. For synonyms, see 

BACKDOOR-TROT, subs, (provincial). 
Diarrhoea. The allusion is 
obvious. A more common term 


Back Down. 

88 Backing and Filling. 

BACK DOWN, verb, (common). To 
yield ; to retreat from a posi- 
tion ; to abandon a line of 
argument ; to eat one's words. 
Originally an American turn of 
expression. See BACK TRACK 
and BACK OUT. 

Subs. Usually a SQUARE 
BACK DOWN ; a severe rebuff ; 
sometimes, utter collapse. 

BACKED, ppl. adj. (old). Dead a 
figurative use of to ' put on 
one's back," i.e., to place hors de 

BACK-END, subs, (racing). The 
last two months of the racing 
season. More technical than 

1820. Blackw. Mag., Oct., p. 3. 
When you did me the honour to stop a 
day or two at last BACK-END. 

1883. HAWLEY SMART, Hard Lines, 
ch. xxix. ' Most of what I got over that 
steeplechase I dropped at the BACK-END 
over the October handicaps.' 

Adj. The meaning, mutatis 
mutandis, is the same as BACK- 

1883. Daily Telegraph, April 30, p. 
3, col. 6. And neither [horse] could beat 
Palermo on BACK-END form. 


BACKHAND, verb, (common). To 
detain the decanter when it is 
passed round, and thus to drink 
more than one's share ; a more 
recent phrase is ' not drinking 
fair.' See, however, BACK- 

1857. G. A. LAWRENCE, Guy Living- 
stone, ch. viii. ' Livingstone, if you 
begin BACKHANDING already, you'll never 
be able to hold that great raking chestnut 
I saw your groom leading this evening.' 

change). An unprofitable bar- 

BACKHANDER, sttbs. (common). 
i . A drink out of turn ; also 
detention of wine at table so as 
to get an extra share. 

1855. THACKERY, Newcomes, ch. 
xliii. 'Thank you, Mr. Binnie, I will 
take a BACKHANDER, as Clive don't seem 
to drink." 

1873. Saturday Keviiw, p. 798. Long 
experience has shown us that to get 
small advantages over us gives the 
Scotch so much pleasure, that we should 
not think of grudging them the mild 
satisfaction, just as a kindly host affects 
not to notice a valued guest, who, he 
observes, always helps himself to an 
innocent BACKHANDER. 

2. A blow on the face with 
the back of the hand. 

1836. MARRYAT, Midshipman Easy, 
p. ii. 'Go away, Sarah,' said Johnny, 


1862. FARRAR, St. Winifred's, ch. 
xxxiii. He administered a BACKHANDER 
to Elgood, as he spoke, and the next 
minute Charlie, roused beyond all bear- 
ing, had knocked him down. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School -Life at 
Winchester College. The doctor conies 
suddenly round a corner, and finds Tibbs 
[a fag] mopping the rosy fluid from his 
nose with a rueful countenance, having 
just received a sharp BACKHANDER from 
one of his lords and masters. 

3. Hence, figuratively, a re- 
buke ; a ' setting down.' 

1856. WHYTE MELVILLE, Kate Cov- 
entry, ch. i. I knew this was what John 
calls a BACK HANDER at me, but I can 
be so good-natured when I have anything 
to gain, therefore I only said 

BACKING AND FILLING, adj. (collo- 
ing policy is one that is shifty ; 
irresolute ; trifling. A figura- 
tive usage derived from BACKING 
AND FILLING a vessel, i.e., keep- 
ing it in the middle of the stream 
of a narrow river by advancing 

Backing -On. 


first to one shore, and then 
backing to the other, allowing 
the stream to make the way, 
the wind blowing in an oppo- 
site direction to the stream. 


BACKINGS UP, subs. (Winchester 
College). The unconsumed 
ends of half-burned fagots. 
They are collected and some- 
times made into surreptitious 
fires by 'Juniors.' 

BACK JUMP, subs, (thieves'). A 
back window. See JUMP. 

verb . (pedestrian) . In handi- 
capping to receive less start 
from ' scratch ' than previously 
given even to being put back 
to ' scratch.' 

BACK OUT, 'verb, (colloquial). To 
retreat cautiously and tacitly ; 
from stable phraseology; e.g., 
the BACKING OUT of a horse. 
Very much the same as to BACK 
DOWN (q.v.}. 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. viii. 
Jobson, however, was determined that 
Morris should not BACK OUT of the 
scrape so easily. 

1855. A. TROLLOPE, The Warden, 
ch. xii. How was he to BACK OUT of a 
matter in which his name was already 
so publicly concerned ? 

1870. L. OLIPHANT, Piccadilly, pt. 
IV., p. 152. I am sure that he had done 
his best to spread the report of my 
marriage with his sister for fear of my 


BACK SCUTTLE, verb, (thieves'). 
The same as BACK-SLANG (q.v .). 

ONE'S BACK-SEAM, phr. (tailors'). 
To be down on one's luck ; 
to be unfortunate. 

SEAT, phr. (American). Figu- 
ratively, to retire into obscurity ; 
it also sometimes implies a 
silent confession of failure ; an 
inability to accomplish what 
one has attempted. The collo- 
quialism has gained a world- 
wide currency ; it received an 
immense 'send off,' as the Ameri- 
cans say, from Andrew John- 
son's famous saying in 1868, 
that in the work of Reconstruc- 
tion traitors should TAKE BACK 

1885. Society, Feb. 7, p. 9. This 
great batting achievement must, how- 
ever, TAKE A BACK SEAT when compared 
with the enormous total recently scored 
by Shaw's Eleven in Australia, against a 
powerful Colonial team. 

1888. Daily News, Feb. 24, p. 5, col. 
2. Any form of art which is barred by 
its very nature from perfection must 
TAKE what the Americans call A BACK 


1888. Texas Siftings, p. 426. Who 
will say the Britishers are not a forbear- 
ing and forgiving race, and the inhabi- 
tants of Stratford-on-Avon don't by any 
means TAKE A BACK SEAT in that line ? 
Ignatius Donnelly actually visited the 
birthplace of Shakespeare, and wasn't 
lynched ! Far from it, he was hospitably 
received and entertained. 

BACK-SLUM, subs, (colloquial). 
The lowest and most disreput- 
able quarters of a town or city ; 
generally applied to the dens 
and rookeries of the criminal 
and ' outcast ' classes. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF'S Tom 
and Jerry, Act ii., Scene 5. Log. Well, 
don't grumble every one must pay 
for his learning and you wouldn't 
bilk the schoolmaster, would you ? 
But, come, I'm getting merry; so if 
you wish for a bit of good truth, come 
with me, and let's have a dive among 
the cadgers in the BACK SLUMS, in the 
Holy Land. Jerry. BACK SLUMS Holy 
Land ! I'm at fault again. Log. Why, 
among the beggars in Dyot Street, St. 
Giles's. Tom. Beggars ! ah, we shall be 
very good figures tor the part. 

(Turns out his pockets.) 




1876. M. E. BRADDON, Joshua 
Haggard's Daughter, ch. xx. Not in 
fetid alleys and festering London BACK- 
SLUMS only is man's fight with {difficulty 
a bitter and crushing battle. 

(Australian thieves'.) A back 
room or entrance. 

BACKSTAIRCASE, subs, (common). 
A bustle, or ' dress improver.' 
For synonyms, see BIRDCAGE. 

liar). Underhand dealing or 
persuasion ; a stab in the dark ; 
intrigue. [From the use of the 
back or private stairs of a 
palace, etc., for other than 
state visitors ; hence, a secret 
mode of approach ; and, attri- 
butively, applied to indirect, 
oblique, and unfair intrigue.] 

1697. VANBRUGH, Relapse, II. He 
is like a BACKSTAIR minister at Court, 
who, while the reputed favourites are 
sauntering in the bed-chamber, is rul- 
ing the roast in the closet. 

about France, p. 77. These men are the 
most indefatigable retailers of BACK- 
STAIRS small talk to the little fry of 

BACK-STALL, subs, (thieves'). An 
accomplice who 'covers' the 
actual thief; especially used 
in relation to garrote-robberies, 
in which the BACK-STALL has 
two functions, first to screen his 
companion, and then, if neces- 
sary, to ' make off ' with the 

(common). i. A slang catch- 
phrase indicating that the 
matter in question is closed to 
discussion ; ' there's nothing 
more to be said.' 
2. Underhand insinuation. 



(popular). A facetiously brutal 
way of implying that the sub- 
ject of such a remark is well 
primed with liquor even to 
the verge of drunkenness. See 

1888. Missouri Republican, Jan. 25. 
When sober on the bench, Judge Noqnan 
is a model of all the virtues. On Friday 
night, however, in company with Dr. 
Munford, of Kansas City, ex-Speaker 
Wood, Mr. Charles Mead and several 
other gentlemen, his honour once more 
drank until, as an onlooker put it, his 


BACK-TIM BER,SMS. (old). Clothes. 
A humorous term which dates 
back to the middle of the 
seventeenth century. Other 
slang equivalents are TOGS and 


the sense of fine or showy garb. 
In French argot, alpague is used 

b. 1574, d. 1656. BP. HALL, Works V., 
543. Was there ever more riot and excess 
in diet and clothes, in belly-cheer and 
BACK-TIMBER, than we see at this day ? 

BACK TOMMY, subs, (tailors'). A 
piece of cloth used to cover 
the ' stays ' at the waist. 

TRACK, phr. (American). To 
retreat from any assumed po- 
sition ; to BACK OUT (q.v.). 

BACK UP, verb. (Winchester Col- 
lege). To call out. In ' College ' 
various times are called out by 
Junior in ' Chambers,' such as 
' Three quarters !' 'Hour !' 'Bells 
go single ! ' ' Bells down ! ' 

BACK -SLANG, subs, (street and 
costermonger). A species of 



slang, in which every word, as 
far as possible, is pronounced 
backwards. See ' A Compara- 
tive and Historical Study of 
Slang ' at the end of this work. 
verb. i. (thieves'). To talk 
in the BACK-SLANG lingo. 

2. (thieves'). To go or come 
stealthily from a place ; to 
sneak by a roundabout way ; 
also, to go away quickly. 

3. (Australian). Up country 
in Australia, as in most parts 
a little out of the beaten tracks 
of civilization, a traveller is 
welcome at most of the home- 
steads in his way. Though 
unknown to the inmates, and 
bearing no letter of introduc- 
tion, it is a common thing for 
a wayfarer to ride or drive up 
to a house, maybe call for help, 
and then take up his quarters 
for the night. This, in Aus- 
tralia, is called BACK-SLANGING 
IT, though how the phrase is 
derived is not quite clear, for 
there is no suggestion of sneak- 
ing or proceeding stealthily in 
the question. 

BACKWARDATION, subs. (Stock Ex- 
change). A penalty paid for 
an extension of time, by sellers, 
when unable to deliver stock 
or shares which they have con- 
tracted to deliver by a certain 
date. BACKWARDATION is the 
reverse of CONTANGO (q.v.). Ob- 
viously this sometimes permits 
the purchase of stock cheaper 
on credit than for cash. 

1850. KEYSER, Law of the Stock Ex- 
change. The term BACKWARDATION is 
employed when stock is more in demand 
than money, and a premium is given to 
obtain the loan of stock against its value 
in money. 

1886. Daily News, 14 Dec., p. 6, 
col. i. The 1873 loan is, on balance, 

about lower, at 94, after being 93^. 
The BACKWARDATION on the stock went 
off at the close. 

BACKY, subs, (tailors'). A shop- 
mate who works behind an- 

BACON, subs, (popular). The 
human body. A reference pro- 
bably to the fact that the flesh 
of the pig forms the staple meat 
diet of the rural population, and 
lower classes generally. For- 
merly, no doubt, the term was 
applied, at first ironically or 
contemptuously, to a sleek, gross 
person ; hence such compounds 
as 'chaw-bacon,' 'bacon-brains,' 
' bacon - face," ' bacon - slicer,' 
'bacon-picker,' etc. A trans- 
ference in sense, and a curtail- 
ment in form, in which BACON 
came to signify the human body 
was, from this point, easy 
enough. For synonyms, see 

(popular). To escape narrowly 
from loss, danger, or damage ; 
to just get off. The term is 
here an attributive usage of the 
slang sense, in- which BACON 
signifies the human body. When 
it is said that a man has just 
SAVED HIS BACON, it refers to 
the individual himself. So also 
in the kindred phrase, ' Oh, 
SPARE MY BACON,' the suppliant 
asks to be spared in his own 
person ; and the same idea oc- 
curs in 'TO SELL ONE'S BACON,' 
i.e., one's flesh or body, as in the 
case of women of the town. 
Falstaff, in/. Henry IV., Act ii., 
Sc. 2. 93 [1596] thus applies 

BACON to human beings ' On ! 
Bacons, on ! ' So far the general 
aspect of the question; in re- 
gard to particulars, Mr. Thomas 




Boys has some curious remarks 
upon the subject [N.and Q., 2 
S., iv., 132] in effect as follows. 
In connecting the phrase TO 
SAVE ONE'S BACON with its ori- 
ginal meaning, we are carried 
back to times when imputed 
heresy was expiated at the stake ; 
and a man was said to have 
just SAVED HIS BACON (i.e., from 
frying), who had himself nar- 
rowly escaped the penalty of 
being burnt alive. This con- 
nection of the two ideas is thus 
shown. When a pig is killed, 
it is the custom in some of the 
southern countries of Europe, 
as well as in many parts of 
England, to remove the bristles 
from the dead pig's hide, not by 
scalding but by singeing. This 
is an operation of some nicety ; 
for too much singeing would 
spoil the bacon. But practice 
makes perfect ; and by the aid 
of ignited stubble, straw, or 
paper, the object is effected. 
The bristles are all singed off, 
and the bacon remains intact. 
This operation of singeing is in 
Portugal called chamiiscar, from 
chama or chamma, a flame or 
blaze. ChaniMscar, to singe, as 
pigs, to take off the hair (Moraes) . 
Hence the noun chamusco, which 
is the smell of anything that has 
been singed. Hence also the 
phrase cheira a chamusco (he 
smells of singeing). This last 
phrase, however, cheira a cha- 
musco, was specially applied to 
any suspected heretic: 'o que 
merece ser queimado, e faz per onde 
o seja, o que diziao por afronta aos 
Judeos encobertos. That is ' he 
who deserved to be burnt, and 
acted in a way that was very 
likely to lead to it,' was said to 
smell of singeing (' cheirar a cha- 
musco'), i.e., to smell of the 

fire. Consequently, the phrase 
was contumeliously addressed 
to anyone who was secretly a 
Jew (Moraes). Thus the per- 
secuted Israelite, who stead- 
fastly adhered to his forefathers' 
creed, and lived in daily peril 
of the stake, was allusively but 
threateningly and insultingly 
compared to the abhorred car- 
cass, which, though not yet 
roasted, boiled or fried, had al- 
ready the smell of fire. If, after 
all, he was actually burnt alive, 
the same allusion was carried 
out to the end ; for he was then 
said, ' morrer frito,' to be fried to 
death (literally, ' to die fried'). 
But even if not burnt he still 
had the chamusco, or ' smell of 
fire ' ; that is, he had only JUST 


1691. Weesils, I., 5. No, they'l con- 
clude I do't tO SAVE MY BACON. [M.] 

1705. WARD, Hudibras Redivivus, 
vol. I., pt. II., p. 12. 
For could their talent be forsaken, 
And they unite truth to SAVE THEIR 

1721. MRS. CENTLIVRE, The A rtifice, 
v., ii. That pretence shan't SAVE YOUR 
BACON, you old villain you. 

1836. M. SCOTT, Cringle's Log, ch. 
v. 'You know I SAVED YOUR BACON in 
that awkward affair, when through 
drunkenness you plumped the Torch 

1856. C. READE, Never Too Late, 
ch. Hi. Jem drew a long breath and 
said brutally, yet with something of 
satisfaction, ' You have SAVED YOUR 
BACON this time.' 

The French equivalent it may 
be noticed is somewhat analogous 
sauver son lard, i.e., ' to save 
one's bacon.' 

Possibly, however, most peo- 
ple will be inclined to take the 
phrase at its face value, with- 
out resort to complicated 
argumentative derivation. In 
such a case the figurative use 



Bad 'A penny. 

of bacon as signifying the body 
will suffice to explain its 

To PULL BACON, phr. (popu- 
lar). An operation described 
by the immortal Ingoldsby in 
the line 

He put his thumb unto his nose and 
spread his fingers out. 

In other words TO TAKE A 


ANNE'S FAN (q.v.). 

1886. Household Words, Oct. 2, p. 
453. [This] peculiar action has, I 
believe, almost invariably been de- 
scribed as ' taking a sight.' A solicitor, 
however, in a recent police case at 
Manchester, described it as PULLING 

1887. Leeds Evening News, Sept. 
MEN. Before Mr. Goodman and Mr. 
Farrar Smith, at the Leeds Police Court 
to-day, George Evans (50), coachman to 
the Earl of Mexborough, Mexborough 
Hall, near Methley, was summoned 
under the Hackney Carriage Bye-laws 
for having driven on the wrong side of 
the road. Police-constables Moody and 
Lockwood were on duty in Boar Lane 
on the 6th inst., when they saw the 
defendant driving a pair of horses at- 
tached to a carriage on the wrong side 
of the road for a distance of one hundred 
yards. The officers spoke to him, when 
he put his fingers to his nose and PULLED 
BACON at them. He had been previously 
cautioned, but had not taken the slight- 
est notice. Defendant said he had been 
a driver in London for eighteen years, 
and knew they had policemen in the road 
there, but he did not understand the law 
of driving in Yorkshire. He was fined 


BACON-FACED, adj. (colloquial). 
With sleek, fat face ; full faced. 
Otway in the Atheist [1684] 
speaks of one with a ' BACON 
FACE like a cherubim.' 

BACON-FED, adi. (colloquial). Fat 
or greasy. The expression 
occurs in Shakspeare's King 
Henry IV. See BACON. 

BACON -SLICER, subs. (old). A 
rustic. See CHAWBACON. 

1653. URQUHART, Rabelais, bk. I., 
ch. xv. (Bohn), I., 149. If he have not a 
better judgment, a better discourse, and 
that expressed in better terms than your 
son, with a complete carriage and 
civility to all manner of persons, ac- 
count me for ever hereafter a very 
clounch, and BACON-SLICER of Brene. 

BAD, adj. (popular). Hard ; diffi- 
cult. Used as in quotation. 

1884. HAWLEY SMART, Post to Finish, 
ch. xi. ' I have heard you say over and 
over again that, when they are in the 
mood, their very temper makes them 
BAD to beat.' 

To GO TO THE BAD, phr. (col- 

loquial). To be ruined ; to be- 
come depraved. Virgil has a 
similar phrase in pejus mere, 
' to go to the worse.' 

1864. M. E. BRADDON, A urora Floyd, 
ch. xi. ' A reckless man, ready TO GO TO 
THE BAD by any road that can take me 
there ; worthless alike to myself and to 

1880. G. R. SIMS, Ballads of Baby- 
lon (Beauty and Beast). Let him GO TO 
THE BAD at his own mad pace. 

To THE BAD, i.e., on the wrong 
side of the account ; in deficit. 

1816. 'Quiz,' Grand Master, viii., 
25. I've really TO THE BAD some thou- 
sand of rupees to add. [M.] 

1884. Pa//MflG.,6Feb., 4 . He was 
between 70 and 80 TO THE BAD. [M.] 

WANT 'EM or HIM BAD, phr. 
(American). A humorous man- 
ner of expressing strong desire. 

1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, March 9. 
Myers' absence is seriously annoying 
to the defense, and does not appear 
quite as funny as it did when the prose- 
cution called for him on Saturday last. 
It is not probable that the Court will 
very long suspend the trial if Myers 
does not appear. As the case now 
stands, the defense want Myers, and 






BAD-BARGAIN, subs. (old). For- 
merly a worthless soldier; a 
malingerer. Nowadays the 
term is applied to any worth- 
less person or scapegrace. 

BAD-BREAK, subs. (American). A 
corruption of ' bad outbreak," 
i.e., riotous conduct, generally 
attributable to drink. 

rican). Of Western origin, 
and equivalent to the English 

NO GREAT SHAKES (q.V.). 'Crowd/ 

it may be remarked, in America, 
signifies either one or more indi- 

BAD- EGG, subs, (familiar). A 
scoundrel ; a blackguard ; a 
' loose fish.' In America the 
meaning attached to the term 
does not necessarily involve 
such an idea of depravity as on 
this side of the Atlantic. In the 
States the term is also applied 
to a worthless speculation. 

1866. SALA, Trip to Barbary, p. 130. 
The man in black baize with the felt 
kepi, and who had a hatchet face despe- 
rately scarred with the small-pox, looked 
from head to heel a BAD EGG. 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, ch. 
ii., p. 123. There is no doubt, but there 
are many of the officials of the convict 
prisons who are what the Yankees call 


lot ; bad halfpenny ; bad-hat. 
In Australia ' ne'er-do-wells ' are 
termed sundowners ; dry hash ; 
or, a stringy bark. 

(popular) ; mauvais gobet (popu- 
lar : mauvais, bad ; gobet, properly 
a mouthful, morsel, lump, or 
piece) ; ferlampier or ferlandier 
(thieves' : ferlampic formerly sig- 
nified a dunce) ; clique (popular) ; 
mariasse (popular). 

BAD FORM, subs, (society). He 
who, or that which fails to con- 
form to the shifting fads and 
fancies of Society, with a big 
S ; and, in a more general sense, 
anybody or anything vulgar or 
lacking polish. 

1882. Punch. ETON BOY. What an 
awful lot of energy you've got uncle ! 
UNCLE. Pretty well, my boy, for my 
time of life, I think! E. B. Yes! but 
energy's such awful BAD FORM, you know! 

BADGE, subs. (old). Used in the 
canting sense, for one branded 
in the hand. ' He has got his 
BADGE, and piked'; i.e., 'he 
was burned in the hand, and is 
at liberty. Grose. 

BADGE-COVE, subs. (old). A parish 
pensioner ; also in the sixteenth, 
seventeenth, and eighteenth cen- 
turies a licensed beggar or 
almsman. The remarks under 
are to the point in this connec- 

BADGER, stibs. (old). i. A river 
thief. A good account of these 
gentry appears in Harrison 
Ainsworth's Jack Sheppard. 

2. (American thieves'). In 
the cant language of the Ameri- 
can criminal classes a BADGER 
or PANEL THIEF (q.v.} is one 
who robs a man after a woman 
accomplice has enticed the vic- 
tim into her den. 

3. (schoolboy). A red haired 

4. (harlotry). A common 
prostitute. See BARRACK-HACK. 

5. (nautical). Sometimes 
BADGER -BAG. The fictitious 
individual personating Neptune 
in the festivities incident to 
' crossing the line.' See AMBAS- 

Badger State. 


Bad Man. 

6. (Wellington School). A 
fellow who has got his ' badge ' 
for play in the 2nd XV. at foot- 

verb, (popular). To tease ; to 
annoy ; to confound. 

1798. O. KEEFE, Wild Oats, I., i. At 
home, abroad, you will still BADGER me. 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. xxxiv., 
p. 299. Tracy Tupman, and Augustus 
Snodgrass, were severally called into 
the box ; both corroborated the testimony 
of their unhappy friend ; and each was 
driven to the verge of desperation by 
excessive BADGERING. 

1860. DICKENS, Great Expectations, 
ch. xviii., p. 82. ' Which I meantersay,' 
cried Joe, 'that if you come into my place 
bull-baiting and BADGERING me, come 

The popular French equiva- 
lent of TO BADGER is agujgner. 


phr. (popular). A figurative 
use of ' drawing the badger ' ; 
to overdraw one's banking 

1843-4. HOOD, Miss Kilmansegg. 
His cheeks no longer drew the cash, 
Because, as his comrades explain'd in 

He had overdrawn his badger. 

BADGER STATE, subs. (American). 
A popular name for the State 
of Wisconsin, and so called 
because of the BADGERS which 
once abounded there. 


BAD-HALFPENNY, subs, (popular). 
A ne'er-do-weel ; an allusion to 
the frequency with which, like 
bad coins, they are always ' turn- 
ing up.' Cf., BAD-EGG. 

(Australian) . A failing specu- 
lation ; a risky venture. 

BAD HAT, subs, (popular). The 
same as BAD EGG (q.v.}. 

1883. BESANT, They Were Married, p. 
II., ch. ix., in Captain's. Room, etc. There 

may be one or two BAD HATS among 
eldest sons ; but there is not one, I am 
sure there cannot be one who would 
dare to take his wife's salary and deprive 
her of her son. 

BAD LOT. A term derived from 
auctioneering slang, and now 
generally used to describe a man 
or woman of indifferent morals. 

1849. THACKERAY, Pcndennis, ch. 
Ix. 'He's a bad'un, Mr. Lightfoot 
a BAD LOT, sir, and that you know.' 

1868. Miss BRADDON, Trail of the 
Serpent, bk. I., ch. ii. ' I am good for 
nothing,' he said, ' I am a BAD LOT. 
I wonder they don't hang such men as 

1872. M. E. BRADDON, Dead Sea 
Fruit, ch. i. ' The impracticable 
Daniel has a certain kind of influence ; 
and though he rarely cares to use it on 
his own account being so BAD A LOT 
that he dare not give himself a decent 
character he will employ it to the 
uttermost for a spotless nephew.' 

BAD MAN, subs. (American). A 
BAD MAN, in the West, is a 
somewhat mixed character. 
The term is generally under- 
stood to mean a professional 
fighter or man-killer, but who, 
despite this drawback, is said 
by Roosevelt, in Ranch Life in 
the Far West, to be sometimes, 
according to his light, perfectly 
honest. These are the men who 
do most of the killing in frontier 
communities ; yet it is a note- 
worthy fact that the men who 
are killed generally deserve 
their fate. These men are, of 
course, used to brawling, and 
are not only sure shots, but, 
what is equally important, able 
to ' draw ' their weapon with 
marvellous quickness. They 
think nothing whatever of 
murder, and are the dread 
and terror of their associates; 
yet they are very chary of tak- 
ing the life of a man of good 
standing, and will often ' weak- 

Bad Match Twist. 



en ' and ' backdown ' at once if 
confronted fearlessly. With 
many of them their courage 
arises from confidence in their 
own powers and knowledge of 
the fear in which they are held ; 
and men of this type often show 
the white feather when they 
get into a ' tight place.' Others, 
however, will face any odds 
without flinching, and when 
mortally wounded, have been 
known to fight with a cool 
ferocious despair that was 
terrible. During the last two 
or three years, stockmen have 
united to put down these 
dangerous characters, often by 
the most summary exercise of 
lynch law ; and, as a conse- 
quence, many localities once 
infested by BAD MEN are now 
perfectly law-abiding. 

BAD MATCH TWIST, subs. phr. 
(hairdressers'). A man who 
has red, or carotty hair and 
black whiskers is said to have 


BADMINTON, subs, (common). i. 
A cooling drink ; a kind of 
claret-cup, so called because 
invented at the Duke of 
Beaufort's seat of the same 
name. Composed of claret, 
sugar, spice, soda-water, and ice. 

1845. DISRAELI, Sybil, bk. I., ch. i. 
' Waiter, bring me a tumbler of BADMIN- 

1853. WHYTE MELVILLE, Digby 
Grand, ch. ix. An enormous measure of 
BADMINTON, that grateful compound of 
mingled claret, sugar, and soda-water. 

1868. OUIDA, Under Two Flags, 
ch. ix. Looking up out of a great silver 
flagon of BADMINTON, with which he was 
ending his breakfast. 

2. (pugilistic). Blood ; from 
the similarity in colour to the 
summer drink of the same 

name. CLARET (q.v.), for a 
like reason, is also, in the 
language of the prize-ring, 
synonymous with blood. 


BAD SHOT, subs, (popular). An 
abortive attempt; a woman's 

1844. KINGLAKE, Eothen, viii., 137. 
I secretly smiled at this last prophecy 


1859. REV. E. BRADLEY ( ' Cuthbert 
Bede ' ) in Notes and Queries, 2 S., viii., 
p. 492. A BAD SHOT is one of the worst 
exposures of his ignorance that a Uni- 
versity man when up for examination 
can make. 

See, however, SHOT. 

BAD SLANG, subs, (circus and 
showmen's). Faked up mon- 
strosities ; spurious curiosities. 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Ad- 
ventures of a Cheap Jack, p. 206. Rod- 
erick Palsgrave was considered by all 
who knew him to be the best showman 
of a BAD SLANG that ever travelled. He 
would get hold of any black girl or 
woman, dress her up, and then show 
her as one of the greatest novelties ever 

BAG, subs, (old slang). i. A woman 

when enceinte was said ' to have 

a BAG.' Cf., To BAG. Sense 3. 

2. (Westminster School). 



(old). To tell, or disclose the 
whole truth ; to wind up an 
argument or discussion. 

TO GIVE THE BAG, phr. (old). 

i. Formerly used in varying 
senses. In the following quota- 
tion it conveys, says Nares, the 
idea of chicanery and cheating. 
This, however, is doubtful, but 
compare ' to give the bag to 
hold. 1 

1592. GREENE, Quip, in works IX., 
363. You shall be .... lighte witted 




upon every small occasion TO GEUE your 
maister THE BAGGE. 

2. In another respect TO 
GIVE THE BAG was used in a 
sense analogous to that con- 
veyed in TO GIVE THE SACK 
(q.v.), i.e., to dismiss a person 
from one's employment, with 
this important difference that 
primarily the ' bag ' or ' sack ' 
was not given by the master or 
mistress to the servant, but 
vice versa, and, therefore, the 
expression meant ' to leave 
without warning.' This was 
the earliest usage. 

1592. Defence of Conny Catching, in 
Greene's works XL, 86. If he meane to 
GIUE HER THE BAGGE, he selleth what- 
soever he can, and so leaues hir spoild 
both of hir wealth and honestie. 

1647. Speedy Hue and Crie, I. ... 
He being sometime an Apprentice on 
London Bridge .... GAVE HIS MASTER 
THE BAG. [M.] 

Gradually the meaning of TO 
GIVE THE BAG changed to that 
which, even to-day, is dialec- 
tically current, i.e., ' to dismiss 
a person from one's employ- 
ment,' though in large centres of 
population TO GIVE or RECEIVE 
THE SACK is, at present, the 
more popular equivalent. While 
dealing with variations of this 
kind, it is noteworthy that ' bag ' 
was, in the seventeenth century, 
varied by ' canvas,' as Shirley 
has it 

1652. SHIRLEY, The Brothers, Act 
ii. I have promis'd him as much as 
marriage comes to, and I lose my hon- 
our, if my don RECEIVE THE CANVAS. 

Gifford and Dyce in a note 
say ' the phrase is taken from 
the practice of . journeymen 
mechanics who travel in quest 
of work, with the implements 
of their profession. When 
they are discharged by their 

masters, they are said to RE- 
BAG ; because in this their tools 
and necessaries are packed up, 
preparatory to their removal.' 
This suggested derivation would 
possibly pass muster were it 
not that, treated historically, 
the phrase though identical in 
form is shown to have had an 
earlier usage, and one, more- 
over, of an entirely antagonistic 
character ; unless indeed, in 
the first instance, it was cus- 
tomary for employers to find 
' bags ' of tools and working 
implements for their employees, 
in which case the workman or 
servant in leaving his work would 
naturally GIVE the master THE 
BAG. The transition in sense 
which the phrase has undergone 
would then become perfectly 
clear, as far as the why and 
wherefore of the change is con- 
cerned. Cf., SACK. 


HOLD, phr. (old). To leave in 
the lurch ; to engage a person's 
attention in order to deceive. 
Cf., To GIVE THE BAG, sensei. 

1793. T. JEFFERSON, Writings (1859), 
iv., 7. She will LEAVE Spain THE BAG TO 
HOLD. [M.] 

1823. SCOTT, Peveril of the Peak, vii. 
She GAVE ME THE BAG to hold and 
was smuggling in a corner with a rich 
old Puritan. 


phr. (old). An expression equi- 
valent to what, in modern 
slang, is termed ' having a 
trump card in reserve ' ; some- 
thing in hand as a last resource 
or expedient. 

1659. REYNOLDS, in Burton Diary 
(1828), iv., 447. If this be done which is 


be done, we shall ... be able to buoy 
up our reputation. [M.] 






BAG, phr. (familiar). To dis- 
close a trick or secret. See 

To PUT ONE IN A BAG, phr. 

(old). Usage and derivation 
explained, as far as known, in 

1662. FULLER, Worthies, Cardigan 
(ii., 579). They (the Welsh) had a kind 
of play wherein the stronger who pre- 
vailed put the weaker into a sack ; and 
hence we have borrowed our English 
by-word to express such, betwixt whom 
there is apparent odds of strength. 
' He is able to PUT HIM UP IN A BAGGE.' 

1676. EARL OF ROCHESTER, Hist, of 
Insipids, st. 14. 

Had haughty Holms but call'd in Spragg, 
Hans had been PUT INTO A BAG. 

A BAG, phr. (printers'). A ' bag ' 
here signifies a pot of beer; 
hence, to drink. Also in use 
amongst seafaring men. 

1887. Sat. Review, 14 May, p. 700. 
It is slang, and yet purely trade slang, 
when one printer says of another that he 



(old). To become a beggar. 

Verb, (popular). i. To secure 
for oneself. Most probably a 
mere extension of the colloquial 
sporting usage of TO BAG (pro- 
perly, to put or enclose in a 
bag), in the sense of to seize, 
capture, entrap, or otherwise 
bring within one's reach. 

1880. MORTIMER COLLINS, Thoughts 
in my Garden, vol. I., p. 163. The word 
beggar itself is from bag meaning a 
man who carries a bag ; and modern 
commercial slang reproduces the phrase, 
saying of a clever man of business that 
he has BAGGED a good thing. 

2. To steal; or to catch (a 
thief or man). Sometimes ren- 
dered by TO COLLAR (q.v.). 

1881. MOORE, Fudge Family in 
Paris, VI. Who can help TO BAG a few, 
When Sidmouth wants a death or two ? 

1862. FARRAR, St. Winifred's, ch. 
xxxv. They would not call it stealing but 
BAGGING a thing, or, at the worst, 'crib- 
bing it" concealing the villainy under 
a new name. 

3. (old). To beget ; to con- 
ceive ; to breed. Also TO BE 
BAGGED. This usage dates 
from about A.D. 1400, and was 
colloquial until about the mid- 
dle of the seventeenth century. 
Warner [in Alb. Eng. VI., 148] 
has the line 

Well, Venus shortly BAGGED, and 
ere long was Cupid bred. 

To GET BAGGY, phr. (com- 
mon). Said of clothes when 
loosened by the stretching which 
arises from wear and tear. 
Trousers get BAGGY at the 

BAG AND BAGGAGE, phr. (common). 
To clear one out BAG AND 
BAGGAGE is to get quit of one 
entirely. A deprecatory ex- 
pression indicating complete 

BAG AND BOTTLE, subs. phr. (old). 
Food and drink. The former 
from being carried in a bag as 
by beggars and vagrants ; the 
latter also being of similar 

1671. EACHARD, Observations. An 
ill-contriving rascal that in his younger 
years should choose to lug the BAG AND 
THE BOTTLE a mile or two to school ; 
and to bring home only a small bit of 
Greek or Latin most magisterially con- 

phr. (old). i. Women and 
children. Grose. 

2, BAGGAGE is also a fami- 

Baggage-Smasher. 99 


liar colloquialism for a pert, 
saucy, young woman ; like 
'wench,' 'rogue,' 'gypsy,' it is 
often used endearingly. 

1693. CONGREVE, Old Batchelor, I., 
i. I believe the BAGGAGE loves me. 

1732. FIELDING, The Miser, Act i., 
Sc. 9. Here's a BAGGAGE of a daughter, 
who refuses the most advantageous 
match that ever was offered. 

1863. ALEX. SMITH, Dreamthorpe, p. 
12. And Beauty, who is something of a 
coquette . . . goes off in a huff. Let 

the BAGGAGE gO ! 

3. (old). A whore or strum- 
pet ; a woman of loose morals. 

4. (old). Rubbish; 'rot.' 

1575. Touchstone of Complexions, p. 
118. For throughe cruditye and lacke 
of perfect concoction in the stomacke 
is engendered great abundance of 
naughty BAGGAGE and hurtful phlegme. 

1576. GASCOIGNE, The Steele Glas, p. 
79. When brewers put no BAGAGE in 
their beere. 

Adj. (old). Used contemp- 
tuously of individuals and 
things. Cf. , BAGGAGE a worth- 
less, good-for-nothing woman. 

1593. G. HARVEY, Pierces Superero, 
in works (Gresart) II., 273. Bibbing 
Nash, BAGGAGE Nash, swaddish Nash, 
rogish Nash, the bellweather of the 
scribling flocke. 

1692. HACKET, Life of Williams, ii., 
128. For four cellars of wine, syder, ale, 
beer, with wood, hay, corn, and the like, 
stored up for a year or two, he gave not 
account of sixpence, but spent it upon 
BAGGAGE, and loose franions. Ibid, p. 
123. Booth himself confest, in the hear- 
ing of those witnesses, that Pregion had 
nothing to do with that BAGGAGE woman. 

BAGGAGL-SMASHER, sitbs. (Ameri- 
can). i. A railway porter. The 
why and wherefore of this nick- 
name is abundantly apparent 
from the following quotations. 

1871. DE VERE, Americanisms, 
p. 358. The BAGGAGE-SMASHER, as the 
porter is commonly called, handles his 

burdens with appalling recklessness, 
and responsibility there is none. 

1880. New Viginians, i., 37. ' Called 


1888. Texas Sif tings, Nov. 3. Fash- 
ionable people who have spent the sum- 
mer at the watering places or at the sea- 
side, but have now returned to the cities, 
assert that the BAGGAGE-SMASHER has be- 
come more destructive than ever. The 
BAGGAGE-SMASHER is indeed a terror. 
In fact there are two of them: the 
one who flits from station to station and 
dumps your poor dumb trunk with force 
enough to drive piles in a government 
breakwater, and the one who loiters 
around the depot watching for his chance 
to shatter your baggage. The depot 
baggageman is the most culpable of the 
two species. In his long and dark career 
of smashing trunks, he has, evidently, 
knocked the hoops off his conscience, 
and there is no remorse brave, fool- 
hardy and reckless enough to tackle his 
heart-strings and play on them. 

2. Also a thief who hangs 
about 'depots,' with a view to 
robbery of luggage. 

1861. New York Tribune, Nov. 23. 
Gamblers, ticket-swindlers, emigrant 
robbers, BAGGAGE-'SMASHERS, and all the 
worst classes of the city. 

BAGGED, ppl. adj. (American). A 
term used to signify imprison- 
ment and victimization pro- 
bably only an extension of the 
idea of capture as derived from 
sport, through the slang ' to 
bag, 1 i.e., to steal. Cf., To BAG. 

BAGGING, subs, (provincial slang). 
In the first instance, food 
taken between regular meals; 
now generally applied, espe- 
cially in Lancashire, to what 
is known in the South of Eng- 
land as ' high tea.' 

1750. J. COLLIER, in Lancashire 
Glossary (E.D.S.). Hoo'l naw cum agen 
till BAGGIN' TIME. [M.] 

1870. Chambers' Journal, Oct., p. 
661. Lancashire adopts the whole-board 
or partial-board system very extensively. 
The local term of BAGGING implies bread 
and cheese, or pies ; and there are all 

Bagging the Over. I0 


the varieties of board and lodging, 
dinner of potatoes and bacon with 
buttermilk, BAGGING in the forenoon and 
afternoon, dinner and lunch, and rations 
allowed for women. 

1879. In Temple Bar Mag., 4 Jan. 
BAGGIN' is not only lunch, but any 
accidental meal coming between two 
regular ones. 



BAGMAN, subs, (popular). i. A 
commercial traveller. Formerly 
of respectable usage ; now only 
employed contemptuously. 

1765. GOLDSMITH, Essays, I. The 
BAGMAN was telling a better story. [M.] 

1840. THACKERAY, Paris Sketch 
Book, p. 20. When all the rest of man- 
kind look hideous, dirty, peevish, 
wretched, after a forty hours' coach- 
journey, a BAGMAN appears as gay and 
spruce as when he started. 

The term BAGMAN took its 
rise in the saddle-bags in which 
the commercial traveller of the 
past century carried his patterns 
and goods. These saddle-bags 
being of larger dimensions than 
those usually carried by travel- 
lers on horseback, would desig- 
nate the commercial traveller 
par excellence as the BAGMAN. 

2. In sporting slang, a 'bag- 

1875. STONEHENGE, Brit. Sports, I., 
II., iv., 5. If ... wild cubs cannot be 
found, a BAGMAN or two must be ob- 
tained. [M.] 

BAGNIO, subs. (old). A brothel. 
[From Italian baqno, a bath, 
properly a hot bath ; whence 
an application as in the case of 
STEW (q.v.), for a house of 

1624. MASSINGER, Parliament of 
Love, II., ii. To be sold to a brothel or 
a common BAGNIO. 

1851. THACKERAY, English Humour, 
V. (1858), 243. How the prodigal drinks 
and sports at the BAGNIO. 

1861. WRIGHT, Domestic Manners in 
England during the Middle Ages, 491. 
They were soon used to such an extent 
for illicit intrigues, that the name of a 
hothouse or BAGNIO became equivalent 
to that of a brothel. 

BAG OF BONES, subs.phr. (familiar). 
A lean, attenuated person ; 
sometimes called a ' walking 
skeleton.' The French have un 
sac a os (often contracted into 
sacdos) a literal translation. 
The term is quite modern, 
being traced by Murray no 
further back than 1838, when 
Dickens used it [in Oliver 
Twist, iv., 64]. 

BAG o- MOONSHINE, subs. phr. 
(common). Nonsense. See 

BAG OF NAILS, subs. phr. (American 
thieves'). A state of confusion 
or topsy-turveydom. [Qy. from 

BAG OF TRICKS, phr. (common). 
Generally, THE WHOLE BAG OF 
TRICKS; i.e., every expedient. 

BAGPIPE, subs, (common). A 
windy talker ; a senseless chat- 
ter-box. The derivation is 
obviously from the musical in- 
strument of the same name. 

Verb. (old). A lascivious 
practice ; too indecent for ex- 

BAGS, subs, (popular). An ironical 
nickname for trousers, thought 
by some to be of University 
origin, and borrowed from ' the 
variegated bags ' of Euripides 


(Cyclops., 182). 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY ('Cuthbert 
Bede'), Adventures of Verdant Green, p, 




51. Just jump into a pair of BAGS and 
Wellingtons. Ibid, p. 5. His black go- 
to-meeting BAGS. 

1870. Chambers' Journal (Christmas 
Number). ' But, holloa ! ' he cried, as 
he caught sight of his legs. ' Parsons 
don't wear light tweed BAGS ! ' . . . . 
Jack had to unpack his portmanteau 
and get out his evening inexpressibles. 

1874. M. COLLINS, Frances, ch. xv. 
His well-shapen hip and calf were hid- 
den in loose-fitting BAGS of corduroy. 

1880. Punch, Jan. 10, p. 6. THE 


IDEAS. His Grace the Duke of Poplar 
and Bermondsey. 'Just look at these 
BAGS you last built me, Snippe ! J'ever 
see such beastly BAGS in your life ? I 
shall always be glad to come and dine 
with you, old man ; but I'll be hanged if 
you shall ever measure me for another 
pair of BAGS ! ' Mr. Snippe (of Snippe 
and Son, St. James's Street). 'You've 
always grumbled about your BAGS, as 
you call 'em, ever since you were my fag 
at Eton ; and at Christchurch you were 
just as bad, even though my poor dear 
old governor used to come all the way 
down and measure you himself. It ain't 
the fault of the BAGS, my dear Popsy 
it's the fault of the legs inside 'em ! So, 
shut up, old Stick-in-the-mud, and let's 
join the ladies the duchess has promised 
to give us " Little Billee." ' 

When made of startling 
material, or ' cut ' in an 
exaggerated style of fashion 
they become HOWLING BAGS. 

Dittoes ; kicks ; kicksies ; bum- 
bags ; sit-upons ; unmention- 
ables ; continuations ; hams ; 
inexpressibles ; abridgements ; 
drumstick-cases ; and ducks 
(when made of white material). 


Intj. (schoolboy). BAGS ! or 
BAGS I ! is frequently used to 
assert a claim to some article 
or privilege. Analogous school- 
boy slang is FAINS or FAIN IT 
(q.v.) for demanding a truce 
during the progress of a game, 
and which is always granted by 
the opposing party. In other 


serve to lay claim to anything, 
or for asserting priority of 
claim. Also BAR! e.g., 'He 
wanted me to do so and so, 
but I barred not.' Cf., FAIN, 
PIKE, and BAR. 


(popular). This phrase is 
erroneously given by Hotten 
(and Barrere has followed suit) , 


The meaning is to be of age, 
and thus to possess all the 
rights and privileges of adult- 
ship ; also to have plenty of 
money. Obviously an allusion 
to the transition from child's 
attire to the garments of man- 

BAGS OF MYSTERY, subs. phr. 
(common). Sausages and 
saveloys are so called from 
the often mysterious character 
of their compounds. Presum- 
ably composed of minced 
'meat,' but so highly flavoured 
and seasoned that no man can 
tell whereof they are made. 

To TAKE THE BAGS (athletic). 
To act as ' hare ' in ' Hare 
and Hounds,' a game too well 
known to need description in 
this place. 

( Stock Exchange ) . Buenos 
/lyres Great Southern Railway 
Bonds. Formed from the 
initial letters, thus B-A-G-S. 


SHOES, subs. (common). A 
nickname for a person will- 
ing for a consideration, to 
give evidence, or act as bail. 
Formerly men were much 
more ostentatious in plying 



Bail Up. 

a vocation of perjury than 
is now happily possible. It was 
no uncommon thing for such 
openly to perambulate the en- 
trances to the law-courts ready 
for any chance customer. They 
made known their occupation 
by wearing a piece of straw just 
sticking out of their shoes. 
The Quarterly Review (xxxiii., 
344) points out that the prac- 
tice is a very ancient one, 
Athens having abounded in 
straw-shoes. The modus oper- 
andi was much the same then 
as in later days. When it was 
' desirable ' to season Attic testi- 
mony with bribery and perjury, 
the scene outside a Greek court 
of justice might be thus des- 
cribed. An advocate or lawyer 
who wanted a convenient wit- 
ness knew by these signs [the 
straws in the sandals] where to 
find one, and the colloquy 
between the parties was brief. 
1 Don't you remember ' said 
the advocate (the party looked 
at the fee and gave no sign : 
but the fee increased and the 
powers of memory increased 
with it). ' To be sure I do ! ' 
' Then come into the court 
and swear it.' And STRAW- 
SHOES went into the court and 
swore it. As B.C., so A.D. 1754 
before and after. 

1754. FIELDING, Jonathan Wild, 
book I., chap. ii. Charity took to hus- 
band an eminent gentleman whose 
name I cannot learn ; but who was 
famous for so friendly a disposition, 
that he was BAIL for above a hundred 
persons in one year. He had likewise 
the remarkable honour of walking in 
Westminster Hall with a straw in his 

At present lawyers use STRAW- 
BAIL to designate insufficient 
bail. Closely allied to this term, 
and used much in the same 

manner, is ' a man of straw.' 
The figure is the effigy of a 
man, stuffed with straw ; hence, 
' a man of straw,' the semblance 
of a man a person of neither 
substance nor responsibility ; or 
one put forward to screen a 
real delinquent. A curious 
usage, akin to the foregoing, 
is also sometimes heard among 
sailors. For example, a strike 
for wages having taken place 
amongst the crew of a ship, 
'BLACKLEGS' (g.v.), or ' straw- 
yarders ' as they were called 
in nautical phraseology, took 
the place of the strikers. On 
the meaning of the expression 
being asked, it was explained 
that a ' straw-yarder ' was a 
man about the docks who had 
never been to sea, and knew 
little or nothing of the duties of 
a seaman. 


phr. (common). To escape, 
either from arrest, or from 
prison ; literally, to be indebted 
to one's legs for flight. For 
exhaustive list of synonyms, see 

1775. ADAIR, American Indians, 277. 
I had concluded to use no chivalry, but 
GIVE THEM LEG-BAIL instead of it, by 
.... making for a deep swamp. [M.] 

1815. SCOTT, Guy Mannering, ch. 
iii. ' I e'en GAE THEM LEG-BAIL, for 
there's nae ease in dealing wi' quarrel- 
some fowk.' 

1848. MARRVAT, Poacher, xxii. GIVEN 


The phrase is sometimes amp- 
lified thus: TO TAKE LEG- 

BAIL UP! also BALE UP! intj. (Aus- 
tralian) . A bushranger's phrase 
for ' stand and deliver ' ! ' Shell 
out ' ! 




1880. Blackwood's Mag., July, p. 91. 
[Australian log.] ' BAIL UP ! BAIL UP ! ' 
shout the two red-veiled attackers, re- 
volvers in hand. 

1887. G. L. APPERSON, All the Year 
Round, July 30, p. 68, col. i. In times 
gone by, it was by no means an uncom- 
mon occurrence [in Australia] for a 
coach to be 'stuck up' by a band of 
bushrangers, whose snouts of BAIL UP, 
an invitation equivalent to our ' shell 
out,' supported by revolver barrels, ter- 
rified the hearts of the passengers. But 
a coach is now seldom interfered 
with, and to ' stick up' is applied to less 
daring attempts to rob. 

2. Hence, colloquially, a 
demand for instant payment. 
Equivalent to the English FORK 
OUT ! STUMP UP ! etc. For 
synonyms, see SHELL OUT. 

BAIT, subs, (common). Anger; 
rage ; indignation. Derived from 
the figurative sense of ' to bait," 
i.e., to worry ; harass ; or tease. 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice-Versa, ch. v. 
1 1 went calmly on, smoking my cigar as 
if nothing was the matter. That put 
the Proctor in a BAIT, I can tell you ! ' 

BAITLAND, subs, (nautical). Admi- 
ral Smyth in his Sailors' Word 
Book quotes this as ' an old 
word, formerly used to signify 
a port where refreshments could 
be procured.' 

BAKE, verb. (Winchester College). 
To rest, or lie down. 

BAKED, ppl. adj. (common). 
Collapsed ; exhausted ; done up ; 
e.g., ' toward the end of the 
course the crew were regularly 
BAKED.' A common colloquial- 
ism at the beginning of the 
present century ; but the pun- 
ning idea involved is very an- 
in the sense of ' to do for 
one' occurs as early as 1380, 
as will be seen from the follow- 
ing quotation. 

1380. SIR FERUMB, 577. For euere 
MY BRED HAD BE BAKE; myn lyf dawes 
had be tynt. 

HALF - BAKED (common) is 
said of a dull-witted or imbecile 
person, i.e., one who is ' soft ' 
or inexperienced, in contrast to 
one who is BAKED in the sense of 
'seasoned,' quick-witted, etc. 

1864. Notes and Queries, 3 S., vi., 494, 
2. He is only HALF-BAKED put in with 
the bread, and taken out with the cakes. 

BAKER, subs. (Winchester College) . 
A cushion . These were of two 
kinds ; that used in ' College ' 
was of large size, oblong in 
shape, and green in colour. 
The other used in ' Commoners ' 
was thin, narrow, much smaller, 
and of red colour. The term 
BAKER is also applied to any- 
thing placed upon a form to sit 
upon, e.g., a blotting book or 
other article ; in short, anything 
comfortable to sit upon. 

(American). A loafer. The 
word is generally attributed to 
Baron de Mandat Grancey, 
who, in his work Cowboys and 
Colonels, innocently translated 
the word ' loafer ' as BAKER. 

To SPELL BAKER (colloquial). 
To attempt a difficult task. 
In the old spelling books 
' baker ' was frequently the first 
word of two syllables to which 
a child came when learning to 


adj. (common). i. Knock- 
kneed ; disfigured by crooked 
legs. This deformity, incident 
to bakers, arising from the con- 
strained position in which they 
knead bread, is said to be the 
almost certain penalty of habit- 
ually bearing any burden of 

Baker Layer. 


Baker's Doz, 


bulk in the right hand, or of 
excessive force constantly ex- 
erted by the right side of the 
body. The knees gradually in- 
cline inwards until they closely 
resemble the right side of the 
letter K. 

1607. DEKKER, Westward Hoe, Act 
ii., Sc. 2. Will women's tongues, like 
BAKERS' LEGS, never go straight ? 

1692. L'EsTRANGE, Life of JEsop. 
yEsop . . . was . . . flat-nos'd, hunch- 
back'd. blabber-lipp'd, a long misshapen 
head ; his body crooked all over, big- 
belly'd, BAKER-LEGG'D, and his com- 
plexion so swarthy that he took his 
very name from 't ; for JEsop is the same 
with /Ethiop. 

1754. B. MARTIN, Eng. Diet., 2 ed. 
BAKES-LEGG'D, straddling, with the legs 
bowing outward. 

1812. COLMAN, Poetical Vagaries, 
p. 13. His voice had broken to a 
gruffish squeak. He had grown blear- 
eyed, BAKER-KNEED, and gummy. 

2. Effeminate. Either an 
attributive usage of the fore- 
going, or an allusion to the 
popular belief that a woman's 
legs are never straight. Com- 
pared physiologically with those 
of a man this is doubtless true ; 
but otherwise most women would 
resent the imputation as a libel. 

1652. GA.vL.E,Hagastrom, 186. BAKER- 
KNEED signifies effeminate. 

BAKER LAYER, subs. (Winchester 
College). A Junior who used 
to take a prefect's green BAKER 
(q.v.) in and out of ' Hall ' at 
meal times. The term is now 

BAKER'S DOZEN, subs, (colloquial). 
Thirteen reckoned as twelve. 
Formerly, so careful were ' the 
powers that be ' regarding the 
supply of bread, that bakers were 
liable to heavy penalties for any 
deficiency in the weight of 
loaves. So hedged in, indeed, 

was the sale of bread, that the 
weight of loaves was fixed 
by law, for every price from 
eighteenpence down to two- 
pence, but penny loaves or rolls 
were not specified in the statute. 
Bakers, therefore, when selling 
the latter, in order to be on the 
safe side, gave, for a dozen of 
bread, an additional loaf, known 
as ' inbread.' A similar custom 
of giving extra quantity was 
formerly observed with regard 
to coal, and publishers nowa- 
days reckon thirteen copies of a 
book as twelve. That the term 
BAKER'S DOZEN was thoroughly 
colloquial at the latter end of 
the sixteenth century is ap- 
parent from the first of the 
following quotations : 

1596. NASHE, Saffron Walden, in 
works III., ii. Conioyning with his 
aforesaid Doctor Brother in eightie 
eight browne BAKER'S DOZEN of Alma- 

1639. Will of Francis Pynner, of 
Bury, Gent., dated April 26 [Camden 
Society's 'Bury Wills 1 ]. The yerely 
sume of ffiue pounds p'cell of the said 
yerely rents to be bestowed in wheaten 
bread, to be made into penny loaves, and 
upon eu'y Lord's day, called Sonday, 
throughout eu'y yere of the said terme 
[40 years or thereabouts], fowre and 
twenty loaves of the said bread, with the 
inbread allowed by the baker for those 
twoe dosens of bread, to be timely 
brought and sett vpon a forme towards 
the vpp'end of the chancell of the said 
p'ish church of St. Marie, and . . . 
the same twoe dosens of bread to be giuen 
and distributed ... to and amongst 
fowre and twentie poore people . . . 
And they, the said clarke, sexton, and 
bedell, shall alwaies haue the inbread of 
all the bread aforesaid ovr and besides 
their shares in the said twoe dosens 
of bread. 

1733. FIELDING, Don Quixote, III., 
vi. I could not number them. I dare 
swear there were a good round BAKER'S 
DOZEN, at least. 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 
xxviii. ' As to your lawyer, you get 
just your guinea's worth from him not 
even so much as the BAKER'S BARGAIN, 





BAKER'S DOZEN is occa- 
sionally used in a somewhat 
more figurative sense, and is 
not confined to the technical- 
ities of trade. It is employed 
to signify thirteen or fourteen. 
It is so quoted in Grose (1785), 
but the usage is apparently 
much older than that, for 
Hudson, the navigator, when 
he discovered the bay to which 
his name is given, designated a 
cluster of thirteen or fourteen 
islands on the east shore of it. 
be seen on the charts ; and even 
French atlases exhibit these 
islands as La Douzaine du bou- 

DOZEN is to pummell a man 
well ; to thrash him soundly 
a humorous allusion to the 
good measure implied by the 

BAKES, subs. (American thieves'). 
A schoolboy. 

BAKESTER, subs. (Winchester Col- 
lege). One who bakes (see 
BAKE) ; a sluggard. The term 
is now obsolete. 

BAKING LEAVE, subs. (Winchester 
College). Permission to BAKE 
(q.v.) in a study in ' Com- 
moners,' or in a ' scob ' place 
in College. In this sense the 
term is obsolete ; but it is now 
used of leave to sit in any 
other person's ' TOYS ' (q.v.) 
a sort of bureau. 

BAKING PLACE, subs. (Winchester 
College). A kind of sofa in 
' Studies ' of ' Commoners." 

BALAAM, subs, (journalistic). A 
term applied to all kinds of 

miscellaneous matter, generally 
of a trumpery and indifferent 
character, used as ' padding ' in 
periodical publications. Evi- 
dently from Numbers xxii., 30, 
in which the ass spoke ' with 
man's voice.' BALAAM hence 
denotes ' the speech of an ass,' 
and is well applied to the 
stupid jokes, and silly para- 
graphs with which odd corners 
and short columns are often 
lengthened out. Brewer claims 
an American origin, but Web- 
ster only calls it ' a cant term. 1 
In any case the term has clear- 
ly reference to nonsense to be 
thrown in to fill space, or non- 
sense thrown out as refuse. 
The curious point in the story 
of Balaam is that the ass talks 
like a philosopher and the pro- 
phet behaves like a donkey. 
The term was popularised by 
its frequent use in Blackwood's 

1826. SCOTT, Mai. Maiagr. iii., 3. 
How much BALAAM (speaking techni- 
cally) I have edged out of your valu- 
able paper. 

1839. LOCHART, Scott, Ixx. (1842), 
622. BALAAM is the cant name for 
asinine paragraphs about monstrous 
productions of nature and the like, 
kept standing in type to be used when- 
ever the real news of the day leave an 
awkward space that must be filled up 
somehow. [M.] 

subs, (journalistic). i. The re- 
ceptacle for BALAAM (q.v.). 

2. When articles or other 
contributions are rejected they 
are put in the BALAAM-BASKET, 
which may either be a pigeon- 
hole (to await return to the 
author) ; the waste paper bas- 
ket ; or, as the readiest mode 
of extinction, the flames. In 
any case, the destination is 




said to be the BAALAM-BASKET 
or BOX. 

1827. Blackw.Mag.,xxi.,340. Several 
dozen letters on the same subject now 
in our BALAAM-BOX. 

1873. HALL, Modern English, p. 17. 
An essay for the Edinburgh Review, in 
' the old unpolluted English language,' 
would have been consigned by the editor 

1877. Notes and Queries, 5 S., vii., 
270, 2. At the risk of getting into your 
BALAAM-BOX, I venture to record the 
whole contents of my bundle as they lie 
before me. 

BALACLAVA-DAY, subs, (military). 
A soldier's pay day. Balaclava, 
in the Crimean War [1854-6] , 
was the base of supply for the 
English troops ; and, as pay 
was drawn, the men went down 
to make their purchases. 

BALANCE, subs. (American). A 
BALANCE properly is that which 
balances or produces equili- 
brium. It is the difference 
between two sides of an ac- 
count the amount of which 
is necessary to make the one 
equal to the other. It is not 
the rest or the remainder, yet 
we continually hear of the 
BALANCE of this or that thing. 
In the sense of ' rest,' ' residue,' 
or 'remainder,' BALANCE is the 
purest slang. 

1846. Albany Journal, Jan. 7. The 
yawl returned to the wreck, took ten or 
eleven persons and landed them, and 
then went and got the BALANCE from the 
floating cabin. [B.] 

1861. Boston Transcript, Dec. 27. 
'We listened to Wendell Phillips for 
about half an hour, and having an engag- 
ment elsewhere, we were forced to leave, 
and so lost the BALANCE of his oration. 1 

[DE V.] 

The word is thus used very 
much like the Scottish lave 

(what is left), employed by 
Burns in the line 

' I'll get a blessing with the lave, 
And never miss it.' 

In some parts of Virginia the 
word ' shank ' is quaintly used 
for the same purpose, and one 
friend will say to another, ' Sup- 
pose you come in and spend the 
shank of the evening with me ? ' 
The vulgarism is becoming com- 
mon in England, as witness the 
following : 

1875. Blackwood's Magazine, April, 
443. BALANCE, long familiar to Ameri- 
can ears, is becoming so to ours. In 
an account of a ship on fire we read 
'Those saved remained the BALANCE 
of the night watching the burning wreck. 


1883. P. FITZGERALD, Recreations of 
a Literary Man, 170. Everyone is away 
shooting or riding; a BALANCE of the 
ladies is left. [M.] 

BALBUS, subs. (University). A 
Latin prose composition. In 
Arnold's well-known text book, 
Latin Prose Composition, BALBUS 
turns up at every corner ; he is 
here, there, and everywhere ; he 
appears to be willing and able 
to do anything, and go any- 
where ; in fact it is BALBUS 
this, and BALBUS that, until the 
wonder is whether BALBUS was 
not something of a prig or bore, 
or both. At all events those 
who used the text book in 
question, cannot fail to re- 
member that doughty old 
fossil of a Roman to their 
dying day. 

1870. Quarterly Review. BALBUS was 
in constant use. 

BALDERDASH, subs. (old). i. Adul- 
terated wine ; a mixture of 
liquors such as wine and beer, 
milk and beer, etc. 




2. (colloquial). Frothy talk; 
nonsense ; a jumble of words. 

1885. MURRAY, New English Dic- 
tionary, Art. BALDERDASH, vol. I., p. 633, 
col. 3. From the evidence at present, 
the inference is that the current sense 
was transferred from i or 2 [i.e., Froth, 
frothy liquid, or a jumbled mixture of 
liquids] either with the notion of ' frothy 
talk,' or of ' a senseless farrago,' or 
' jumble of words.' Most etymologists 
have, however, assumed 3 [nonsense ; 
frothy talk, etc.] to be the original 
sense, and sought its explanation in the 
obvious similarity of balder to dialectical 
balder, ' to use coarse language ' ; Dutch, 
balderen, ' to roar, thunder ' ; Norwegian, 
baldra ; Icelandic, baldrast, ballrast, ' to 
make a clatter,' and of -dash to the verb 
dash in various senses. The Welsh 
baldorddus, adj.,/. baldordd, ' idle, noisy 
talk, chatter,' has also been adduced 
.... Other conjectures may be found 
in Wedgwood, Skeat, and E. Muller. 

BALD- FACE, subs. (American). 
New whiskey ; so villainous is 
the compound, that only by 
courtesy can it be recognised as 
at all approaching the Simon 
Pure. For synonyms, see DRINKS. 

BALD-FACED SHIRT, subs. (Ameri- 
can). In cowboy lingo, a white 
shirt ; from the fact of being 
white on the face or front. 
Ordinarily bald-face is used of 
animals, e.g., a BALD-FACED STAG. 
Hereford cattle, too, have white 
faces, and as cowboys are 
brought into close contact with 
all kinds of cattle, the term as 
applied to a linen shirt is pos- 
sibly a mere transference in 
sense. Cf., BOILED SHIRT. 

BALD-FACED STAG, subs, (common). 
A bald-headed man ; [from 
BALD-FACED, having white on 
face + STAG, a slang term for a 
man. Cf., STAG PARTY.] For 
synonyms, see BLADDER OF 

HEADED, phr. (American). 
With eager impetuosity, or great 
haste ; to do a thing with all 
one's might and main. A 
suggestion of action without 
stopping to cover one's head, 
i.e., on the spur of the moment. 

1848-62. J. R. LOWELL, Biglow 
Papers, p. 6. 

It ain't by princerples nor men 

My preudunt course is steadied, 
I scent which pays the best, an' then 
Go into it BALDHEADED. 
1869. Our Young Folks. Whenever 
he had made up his mind to do a thing 


1888. Pall Mall Gazette, June 22. 
The Chicago Republicans, to use an 
Americanism, have gone BALDHEADED 
for protection. If shouting could win a 
Presidential contest, Elaine and Protec- 
tion would be certain. 


(American). To defeat a 
person in a street fight. 

1871. R. GRANT WHITE, Words and 
Their Uses. 
The crowd than gave a specimen of 

calumny broke loose, 

and likewise cooked his goose. 

BALD-HEADED Row, subs. phr. (Ame- 
rican). The first row of stalls 
at theatres, especially those 
which make a feature of ballets. 
The term is a cynical allusion to 
the fact that these seats are 
generally occupied by men of 
mature age ; the innuendo is ob- 
vious. See FROG-SALAD. 

BALDITUDE, subs. (American). A 
state of baldness. Probably 
a nonce word. 

1882. S. L.CLEMENS ('Mark Twain'), 
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, p. 
187. Trouble has done it, Bilgewater, 
trouble has done it ; trouble has brung 
these gray hairs and this premature 




B allam bang j an g. 

(thieves'). A leader; a head 
man; a spokesman. This term 
has been imported into the 
lingo of English thieves from 
the German Gaunersprache, in 
which it has very much the 
same meaning. 

BALDucTUM,s7<6s. (old) . Nonsense; 
rubbish. Cf., BALDERDASH. 

BALDY, subs. (American). A collo- 
quial vulgarism for a bald-headed 
man. Cf., BALDITUDE. 

BALFOUR-S MAIDEN, subs. (Parlia- 
mentary) . A nickname given 
to a kind of covered battering- 
ram used by the Royal Irish 
Constabulary in carrying out 
evictions in Ireland in the 
years 1888-9. On many estates 
the tenants made most desperate 
resistance to all attempts on the 
part of the landlords to recover 
possession, upon which the 
latter appealed for, and ob- 
tained the assistance of the 
authorities. This but served to 
intensify the struggle, and the 
tenants, driven to extremities, 
in some cases resisted all en- 
deavours, even to throwing 
boiling water over the soldiers 
and police employed against 
them. To protect the evictors, 
and also to render easier the 
demolition of the cabins of the 
wretched people, a kind of 
covered battering-ram was 
made, whereupon the Home 
Rule Party sarcastically gave it, 
amongst other nick-names, that 
term was first used by Sir Wm. 
Harcourt in a speech at a 
monster Home Rule meeting, 
held at St. James's Hall, on 
Wednesday, April 10, 1889. 

An account of the incident 
runs as follows : 

1889. Daily News, April 11. Reso- 
lute government has net been absolutely 
extinguished. Now at Letterkenny, 
Mr. Balfour has introduced a new 
invention, the latest development ot 
resolute government. The Government 
were questioned on the subject, and 
they accepted the responsibility for the 
facts. It stated that in view of the 
Olphert estate evictions, there reached 
there an iron-headed spiked battering- 
ram to be used in carrying out the evic- 
tions. Why, really, gentlemen, when 
you read of these things they are 
like the pictures one sees of the Siege 
of Jerusalem (loud laughter) of the 
implements, which the Latins called 
tormenta. We are familiar with them in 
old mediaeval castles. You find instru- 
ments called 'The Scavenger's Daugh- 
ter,' and 'The Maiden,' and other 
implements of that character. I think 
this last pattern of ram of Mr. Balfour's 
might be called ' The Unionist's Daugh- 
ter' (loud laughter) or it might be 
christened 'BALFOUR'S MAIDEN.' (Cheers 
and laughter.) But not to deprive the 
Liberal Unionists of their share we 
might call it ' Chamberlain's Tenants' 
Protector.' (Renewed merriment.) 

BALL, subs, (thieves'). i. A prison 
ration. 2. A drink. 

To OPEN THE BALL,/>/*r. (com- 

mon). To commence an under- 
taking ; to start off. 

1876. Eton Chronicle, July 20. 
. . . Whatever may seem the mishaps of 

his team, 

Whatever their failings and sinnings, 
He who OPENED THE BALL and who saw 

them all fall, 

Scarce deserved that defeat in one 

BALLAD-BASKET, subs. (old). A 
street singer. See STREET 
PITCHER. A French equivalent 
is un braillard. 

BALLAMBANGJANG, subs, (nautical). 
The Straits of BALLAMBANG- 
JANG, though unnoticed by geo- 
graphers, are frequently men- 
tioned in sailors' yarns as being 
so narrow, and the rocks on 
each side so crowded with trees 


Ballum Rancum. 

inhabited by monkeys, that the 
ship's yards cannot be squared, 
on account of the monkey's tails 
getting jammed into, and chok- 
ing up, the brace blocks. 

BALLAST, subs, (common). Money. 
For synonyms, see ACTUAL. 

WELL-BALLASTED, adj. (com- 
mon). A rich man is said to be 


flush ' ; also ' to have brass ; 
brads,' etc. 5^ synonyms for 
money generally under ACTUAL. 

Among French equivalents 
for the solidity arising from 
the possession of wealth may 
be mentioned : Etre zingue 
(popular: literally 'to be 
covered with zinc ' ) ; avoir des 
monacos (popular : monaco is an 
ironical term for a sou) ; daim 
huppe (popular: daim, a slang 
term for a swell, is properly a 
1 buck,' and huppe also signifies 
high in station, well-off) ; homme 
au sac (familiar : ' a man with a 
bag,' presumably of money) ; 
avoir des picaillons (popular : 
picaillons is thought to be a 
corruption of picarons, a Spanish 
coin) ; etre de la fete (popular : 
i.e., 'to be in luck's way'); 
etre sacque (popular : meaning 
obvious) ; rupin (thieves' term) ; 
avoir de ce qui sonne (popular : 
' to have that which chinks ' ) ; 
tailler en pkin drap (popular). 

In the Spanish Germania a 
rich or WELL-BALLASTED man 
is florido, i.e., 'flowery' or 

BALL FACE, subs. (American). A 
contemptuous epithet applied 
by negroes to white persons. 
Salem, Mass., 1810-1820. 

BALL- KEEPER, subs. (Winchester 
College). In 'Commoners' an 
4 Inferior ' appointed to look 
after cricket and footballs. In 
return for this service he was 
exempted from ' kicking in ' and 
' watching out.' ' Junior in 
College ' has to bring through 
balls every evening. See BALLS. 

BALL OF FIRE, subs. phr. (popular). 
A glass of fiery and pungent 
brandy. For all synonyms, see 

BALLOONING, subs. (Stock Ex- 
change). Inflating the price of 
stocks by fictitious means, such 
as newspaper articles, bogus 
sales, etc. 

BALLOON IT, verb. (American). 
To indulge in rhodomontade ; 
to draw the long bow ; to talk 
big. Obviously from ' to puff 
or swell out ' as a balloon. 

1878. T. SINCLAIR, Mount, 33. Gas- 
brained, BALLOONING wandering men. 


BALL O- WAX, subs, (common). A 
snob, or shoe-maker. See SNOB. 

phr. (Winchester College). 
' Junior in College ' collects 
footballs from the lockers in 
school, and brings them through 
at six o'clock to be blown, or 
repaired, if necessary. 

To MAKE BALLS OF, verb. phr. 
(popular). To go wrong ; to do 
what ' lands ' one in trouble ; 
generally, to make a mistake. 

ALL BALLS, adv. (popular). 
All rubbish ; nonsense. For 
synonyms, see ALL MY EYE. 

BALLUM RANCUM, subs. (old). A 
hop or dance, where the women 




are all prostitutes ; a dance at a 
brothel. These orgies some- 
times take the form of ' buff- 
balls, 1 all present dancing in 
the nude. 

BALLY, adj. (popular). A compa- 
ratively recent coinage, it is 
said, of the Sporting Times, 
from 'bally-hooly.' Generally, 
though not always, used as is 
' bloody,' in the lower strata of 
the body politic. It also sig- 
nifies intensity, and in cases 
where the vocabulary at com- 
mand is limited, BALLY does 
yeoman's service for such words 
as ' fearful,' 'dreadful,' ' terrible," 
'outrageous,' 'confounded.' 

1889. Sporting Times, July 6 (Ans- 
wers to Correspondents). H. G. Steele. 
Thanks. What a BALLY idiot you 
must be. 

1889. Bird o' Freedom, Aug. 7, p. 5. 
Newman Noggs, bringing small boy to 
carry master's bag, and inculcating man- 
ners at the same time, ' Now, what would 
you say if I was to give you sixpence for 
taking it ? ' 'I should say 'twasnt half 
enough, and you can BALLY well take it 
yourself,' was the prompt reply. Boys 
are boys nowadays, and no error, thinks 






BALM, subs. (old). A lie. Dun- 

BALMY, subs, and adj. (common). 
Sleep ; sleepy. [From the figu- 
rative sense of BALMY, i.e., 
deliciously soft and soothing.] 


BALMY ; i.e., ' to go to sleep.' 

1840. DICKENS, Old Curiosity Shop, 
ch. viii., p. 42. ' As it's rather late, I'll 
try and get A WINK OR TWO OF THE 


doss ; to go to BEDFORDSHIRE 
(q.v.) a play upon words. 

pionce or piongage (popular: subs., 
see pioneer] ; le somno (popular : 
an abbreviated form of somno- 
lence) ; piquage de romance (a mili- 
tary term) ; casser une canne, or sa 
canne (popular : this also means 
' to die.' In French as in other 
languages the analogy between 
Sleep and Death is fully recog- 
nised. Many of the French 
slang phrases for the for- 
mer are also used to express 
the latter. Mors janua vita !} ; 
casser son pif (popular : pif 
in French argot = ' the nose.' 
Amongst the peasants of Nor- 
mandy and Berry it signifies 
a ' grog-blossom ') ; pioneer (pop- 
ular : from piausser, a provin- 
cialism for ' to sleep ') ; piquer 
un chien (popular : piquer a 
canting verb of action, ' to do' ; 
therefore ' to do as a dog ') ; 
piquer une romance (popular) ; 
faire son lezard (popular : Cf., 
piquer un chien) ; faire son 
michaud (thieves' : i.e., 'to rest 
one's head or knowledge box ') ; 
roupiller (this term is in general 
colloquial use) ; se recueillir 
(popular : ' to wrap oneself in 
meditation ') ; compter des pauses 
(musicians': 'to count the beats.' 
Cf., various suggested remedies 




for overcoming insomnia; e.g., 
counting slowly up to a hun- 
dred, etc., etc.); taper de I' ceil 
(popular : ' to rub the eyes.' 
Cf., English ' to have sleepy 
dust in one's eyes ') ; mettre le 
chien au cran de repos (popular : 
' to curl oneself up like a dog') ; 
soufflcr ses clairs (popular : ' to 
blow or put out one's light,' i.e., 
' to shut the eyes ' ) ; fermer 
maillard (popular : to close 
one's shutters, i.e., eyelids. 
Maillard was the inventor of 
a particular kind of shutter. 
Other analogous expressions 
are etre terrasse par maillard, 
i.e., ' to be extremely sleepy.' 
Sleep is expressed by fermetnre) ; 
faire schloff or schlo/er, from the 
German schlafen. 

Germania difunto, properly 'de- 
funct,' is used for asleep. 

sound sleep is a bom sornar, 
i.e., 'to sleep on both ears.' 

2. Dull-witted ; thick-skulled. 
In this sense BALMY is used up 
and down the whole gamut 
of imbecility from mere sto- 
lidity to downright insanity. 
Popularly used, it signifies in 
most cases little more than 
shallow-brained or muddle- 
headed ; or, to use slang 
equivalents in their most 
familiar sense, 'to be touched,' 
' to be wrong in the upper 
story," ' dotty.' Among thieves, 
however, it is usually applied 
to insanity, TO PUT ON THE 
BALMY STICK being, among con- 
victs, to feign madness. 

1851. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 231. List of 
patterers' words. BALMY Insane. 

A large number of synonyms 
will be found under APARTMENTS 

TO LET, but in addition to those 
there mentioned may be in- 
stanced the following in the 
French slang : Demenager 
(popular : ' to remove one's 
furniture.' It also means 'to 
die') ; paumer la sorbonne (i.e., to 
punch the head,' sorbonne being 
a slang term for that part of 
the human body. The Sor- 
bonne is a well-known univer- 
sity and seat of learning. 
Among thieves, too, sorbonner is 
used in the sense of ' to think ') ; 
ctre nn pen toe (i.e., slightly 
crazy; toe in slang = ridiculous); 
avoir une pomme de canne feli-e 
(popular : a rather opprobrious 
expression, meaning ' to have 
a slate off.' Cf., ' to have a 
tile loose ') ; avoir line fissure 
(literally ' to have a crack ') ; 
avoir un grain. 

BALMY COVE, subs, (common). A 
weak-minded individual ; one 
who has ' a tile loose.' [From 
BALMY (q.v.) + COVE, a man.] 
Among French thieves such an 
individual is called un hurlubier 
(hurlublu is an obsolete term 
used jestingly for a giddy goose 
or hair-brained person) ; also 
biscayen from the Bicctre prison 
which has a lunatic ward for 
demented convicts. The prison 
itself is calle La Biscaye, but 
this name has no connection 
with the province of Biscay as 
might be supposed. 

BALSAM, subs, (thieves' and popu- 
lar). One of the many 
generic names for money. A 
full list of synonyms will be 
found under ACTUAL. The 
allusion of course is obvious, 
i.e., a healing soothing agent or 
agency ; but, in its secondary 
signification of impertinence, 



' brass,' ' cheek, ' etc , the re- 
verse of the shield is given. 
Such reversals in the legitimate 
meanings of words are not un- 
common in slang. 

BAM, subs, (old slang). i. A 
cheat ; an imposition ; a story 
intended to hoax the credulous ; 
what nowadays generally goes 
under the name of chaff or hum- 
bug [BAM is thought to be an 
abbreviated form of BAMBOOZLE 
(q.v.)~\ . Murray has traced it 
back to 1762, but it appears 
nearly twenty years previous in 
Dyche's dictionary, and also in 
Martin's, the second edition of 
which was published in 1754. 
See verb To BAM. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BAM (s.), a sham or pretence, a lying 

1762. FOOTE, Orators, Act ii. Why 
I know that man, he is all upon his fun ; 
he lecture why 'tis all but a BAM. 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. ix. ' It's 
all a BAM, ma'am all a bamboozle and 
a bite, that affair of his illness." 

Verb. To hoax, to bam- 
boozle ; to wheedle ; to cheat. 
[Of same formation as substan- 
tive, which see above, and Cf., 
BAMBOOZLE.] The first trace 
of it appears in Gibber's Double 
Gallant [1707] , and is discussed 
by Swift in his introduction to 
Polite Conversation [1738], where 
he mentions among ' the ex- 
quisite refinements ' then in 
vogue, BAM for bamboozle, 
and bamboozle for, God knows 
what. Whereupon a corres- 
pondent of Notes and Queries 
[2 S., Jan. 10, '57, p. 31] allud- 
ing to the despair of etymolo- 
gists in regard to these words 
remarked that if from was put 
in the place of for, it would 
describe the predicament in 
which philologists are placed. 

1754. H. MARTIN, Eng. Diet., 2 
ed. To BAM, or TO BAMBOOZLE, to fun, 
to fib, to sham. 

1760. COLMAN, Polly Honeycombe, 
in ^L<ks. (1777) IV., 43. Lord, how well 
he beha-ves! We shall certainly BAM 
the old gentleman. 

1830. MARRYAT, King's Own, ch. 
xlix. ' Now, you're BAMMING me don't 
attempt to put such stories off on your 
old granny.' 

1874. E. L. LINTON, Patricia Kern- 
ball, ch. xxxix. For a moment the 
thought flashed across him whether 
' that tale of Gordon Frere was all a 
BAM, and had the girl taken a liking for 

BAMBLUSTERCATE, verb. (nonce- 
word). A factitious creation 
signifying to embarrass ; con- 
fuse ; or hoax in a blustering 
manner. [From BAM, to hoax, 
or confuse + BLUSTER, noisy 
assertion + GATE, a termina- 
tion in imitation of ' conglome- 
rate'.] See also COMFLOGISTI- 

BAMBOO, verb. (American). A 
corruption of bamboozle. To 
cheat ; to victimize ; to hoax. 
See, however, BAM and BAM- 

BAMBOOZLE, verb, (familiar). To 
hoax ; deceive ; or impose upon. 
Philologists are all confessedly 
at sea in regard to the deriva- 
tion of BAMBOOZLE and its 
attributive forms, but the general 
tendency of evidence is to refer 
it to a gypsy origin. Johnson 
states it to be a cant word ; and 
Bouchier, in his glossary says, 
'it has with great propriety 
long had a place in the gypsy 
or canting dictionaries,' it 
being in his opinion 'the sole 
invention of gypsies or vagrants. ' 
Leland thinks it ' possibly ' the 
Hindu word bambhorna, to hum- 
bug, with the gypsy terminative 



dsel. Wedgwood suggests its 
origin in the Italian bamboccio, a 
young babe, and metaphorically 
an old dotard or babyish gull ; 
imbambolare, to blear or dim 
one's sight, also with flatteries 
and blandishments, to inveigle 
and make a fool of one. If a 
verb were made of bambocciolo 
in the same way as baniboccio- 
lare, it would have much the 
sense of BAMBOOZLE. A. E. Que- 
kett (N. and Q., 5 S., xii., 488) 
throws a side-light upon this 
last theory by pointing out 
that in Shakspeare's Taming 
of the Shrew, Katharina says, 
' Belike you mean to make a 
puppet of me,' and Petruchio 
replies, ' Why true ; he means 
to make a puppet of thee.' 
Comparing this passage with 
the rest of the scene it would 
seem that Petruchio's answer is 
not a mere repetition of Katha- 
rina's words, but contains a 
double entendre of some kind. He 
(Quekett) then hazards that per- 
haps she meant to say, ' Per- 
haps you mean to treat me as a 
doll without a will of its own,' 
while Petruchio appears to mean 
something very like. ' He wishes 


Be all this as it may, BAM- 
BOOZLE first came into vogue 
during the early part of the 
last century ; for in the Tatler 
No. 230 [1710], we read, ' The 
third refinement observable in 
the letter I send you consists in 
the choice of certain words in- 
vented by some pretty fellows, 
such as banter, BAMBOOZLE, 
country-put, and kidney, some 
of which are now struggling for 
the vogue, and others are in 
possession of it ' ! 

So also with the derivatives ; 

e.g., BAMBOOZLE (subs.) \ BAM- 



1703. GIBBER, She Would and She 
Would Not, II., i. (1736), 34. Sham proofs, 
that they propos'd to BAMBOOZLE me 
with. [M.] 

1709. STEELE, Tatler, No. 31. But, 
says I, sir, I perceive this is to you all 


1712. ARBUTHNOT, History of John 
Bull, pt. III., ch. vi. There are a sort of 
fellows that they call banterers and 
BAMBOOZLERS, that play such tricks ; but 
it seems these fellows were in earnest ! 

1731. COFFEY, Devil to Pay, Act i., 
Sc. 3. You juggler, you cheating, BAM- 
BOOZLING villain! 

1754. FOOTE, Knights, Act ii. You 
are tricked, imposed on, BAMBOOZLED ! 

1779. R. CUMBERLAND, Wheel of 
Fortune, Act ii., Sc. i. You know I love 
you, Emily, .... and therefore you 
baffle and BAMBOOZLE and make a 
bumpkin of me. 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. ix. ' It's 
all a bam, ma'am all a BAMBOOZLE and 
a bite, that affair of his illness.' 

1827. LYTTON, Pclham, ch. xxxvi. 
' One does not like to be BAMBOOZLED 
out of one's right of election, by a smooth- 
tongued fellow, who sends one to the 
devil the moment the election is over.' 

1886. Sat. Review, No. 1587, p. 423. 
The public is a great BAMBOOZABLE 

(Nautical). To decoy the 
enemy by hoisting false colours 
merely an extension of the 
popular sense. 

throw dust in the eyes ' ; 'to 
use the pepper-box ' ; 'to gild 
the pill ' ; 'to throw a tub to 
a whale ' ; 'to make believe 
the moon is made of cream 
cheese ' ; ' to jockey ' ; ' to stick ' ; 
' to bilk ' ; ' to do ' ; 'to best ' ; 
1 to do brown ' ; ' to bounce ' ; ' to 
take in ' ; 'to kid ' ; 'to gam- 

monteuse de coups (a woman who 
bamboozles her lovers) ; monter 
des couleurs (popular : ' to de- 




ceive by false representations ; 
couleur signifies ' pretence,' ' sem- 
blance ') ; faire la queue a qud- 
qu'iin (popular) ; tirer la carotte 
(thieves') ; fane voir le tour (popu- 
lar) ; canarder (popular : literally 
'to shoot at one from a shel- 
tered position' ; i.e., to have an 
advantage, and thus to be able 
to hoax or humbug) ; dindonner 
(popular : from dindon, a ' goose'); 
faire le coup, or monter le coup a 
quelqu'un (popular : coup in 
French slang is ' a secret pro- 
cess,' 'a knack' or 'dodge' 
hence ' to deal one an under- 
hand blow,' or ' to serve one a 
trick ') ; empaler (popular : ' to 
deceive by false representa- 
tions '; literally 'to empale'); 
passer des curettes (popular : 
' to make a fool of one ') ; monter 
une gaffe (popular : gaffe in French 
slang='a joke'; a piece of de- 
ceit) ; monter le job or jobarder 
(popular : job is equivalent to 
1 simpleton ' or ' flat,' and is the 
same SLSjobelin) ; mener en bateau, 
un pante pour le refaire (thieves' : 
' to deceive a man in order to 
rob him ') ; monter un batteau 
(popular) ; donner un pont a 
faucher (thieves' : ' to lay a trap 
or snare ') ; promener quelqu'un 
(popular : ' to make a fool of 
one.' Cf., ' to rush ') ; compterdes 
mistouffles (familiar: mistouffle = 
'a scurvy trick'; 'a joke'); 
gourrer (popular : ' to stick '; ' to 
kid ' ; ' to deceive') ; affluer (from 
a flouer, ' to cheat ' ; ' to diddle 
out of ') ; roustir (popular and 
thieves' : ' to cheat ') ; affuter 
(thieves': 'to make unlawful pro- 
fits') ; bouler (popular) ; juiffer 
(popular : literally 'to Jew' as in 
English) ; pigeonner (familiar : 
' to do,' ' to pluck.' In English 
slang the victims of card and 
other sharpers are called 

' pigeons ') ; flancher (popular : 
' to laugh at ' or ' ridicule ') ; 
faire la barbe (popular: Cf., 
faire la queue] ; hisser un gandin 
(thieves' : literally ' to hoist a 
dandy ' or ' swell ') ; mettre 
dedans (popular : to take a rise 
out of one ; literally to ' take in'); 
etre V attire (popular : Cf., to get 
left.' The phrase also signifies 
' to be the lover,' the mis- 
tress) ; planter un chou (familiar) . 

sare (literally ' to cross over ') ; 
dar la stolfa. 

(literally 'to enchant,' 'to en- 
tertain with soft words ' ). 

BAM BOSH, subs, (nonce word). 
Apparently a variation of BAM- 
BOOZLING, as follows. [BAM + 
BOSH.] Humbug; deceit; 

1865. Day of Rest, Oct., 585. I was 
deaf to all that BAMBOSH. [M.] 

word, which is, however, rarely 
used except in humorous writ- 
ings, first saw the light in The 
Legend of the American War. It 
signifies discomfiture and de- 
feat, or stupefaction ; sometimes 

1835-40. T. C. HALIBURTON ( ' Sam 
Slick ' ), The Clockmaker, 2 S., ch. ii. 
The judge said, ' He had got too much 
already, cut him off the other two-thirds, 
and make him pay all costs." If he 
didn't look BUMSQUABBLED it's a pity. 

GHAN, phr. (old). An Irish say- 
ing of one who tells wonderful 
stories ; Banaghan, thought 
Grose, was a minstrel famous 



for dealing in the marvellous 
a kind of prototype of Baron 
Munchausen. Of this, deponent 
knowing nothing, says the same. 

BANAGHER, verb (old). To bang. 

(Australian). Queensland, and 
a native of Queensland respec- 
tively. Apparently from a large 
portion of that section of the 
fifth continent lying within the 
tropics, thus allowing of the 
cultivation of the banana tree 
(Musa sapientum) . 

1886. Chamb. Journal, Feb. 20, p. 124. 
Booted and spurred ' Cornstalks ' and 
BANANA-MEN (natives of New South 
Wales and Queensland respectively). 

1887. Melbourne (Victoria) Sports- 
man, 23 March, p. 7, col. 2. Paddy 
Slavin came from Queensland with the 
reputation of having beaten all the 

1887. Sydney _(N.S.W.) Bulletin, 26 
Feb., p. 6. His friends rallied up to con- 
gratulate him, and see him through, 
after the custom of the simple BANANA- 

It may be interesting to note 
that a native of New South 
Wales is nicknamed a ' CORN- 
STALK,' because built somewhat 
tall and thin. Those whose 
stature is shorter, with circum- 
ference of wider dimensions in 
proportion to their height are 
said to be ' NUGGETY.' The gum 
trees of Tasmania give the ele- 
gant nickname 'GUMSUCKER ' to 
its inhabitants. In this practice 
antipodean colonists follow suit 
with their cousins across the 
Atlantic. See NICKNAMES. 

BANCO, subs. (Charterhouse School). 
Evening preparation down at 
' house ' each day, superintended 
by a monitor. It answers to 
the Winchester TOY-TIME, 


BANDANNA, sitbs. (common). For- 
merly a silk handkerchief with 
white, yellow, or other coloured 
spots on a dark ground. Now 
applied to handkerchiefs of all 
kinds. The name is thought to 
come from the Spanish bandano, 
a neckerchief. 

1752. J. LONG, Bengal (1870), 31. 
Plain tafiaties, ordinary BANDANNOES, 
and chappas. 

1855. THACKERAY, Newcomes, ch. iv. 
The Colonel was striding about the room 
in his loose garments, puffing his cigar 
fiercely anon, and then waving his yellow 


BANDED, ppl. adj. (old). Hungry. 
To mitigate the pangs of 
hunger, starving men tighten 
the belt round the ' middle. 1 
Bamfylde Moore Carew, the 
king of the beggars, mentions 
the practice. Cf., CAFFRE'S 


BANDERO, subs. (American). 
Widows' weeds ; a corruption 
of the now obsolete ' bandore,' 
a widow's head-dress. BAN- 
DORE was itself a corruption of 
the French bandeau, given by 
Littre as anciennement, coiffure 
des veuves. The term was cur- 
rent about the beginning of the 
last century, but in 1785 we 
find it quoted as slang. It 
appears, however, to have 
survived in America whilst 
dropping entirely out of use in 
the Mother Country. In the 
English drapery trade mourn- 
ing goods are sometimes called 


BAN -DOG, subs. (old). A bailiff, or 
his assistant. Originally, says 




Murray, a dog tied or chained 
up either to guard a house, or 
on account of its ferocity ; 
hence generally a mastiff or 
bloodhound. The transition 
from this point to the slang 
sense is clear. 

Shepf>ard [1889] , p. 12. ' But where are 
the lurchers ? ' ' Who ? ' asked Wood. 
' The traps ! ' responded a bystander. 
' The shoulder-clappers ! ' added a lady, 
who, in her anxiety to join the party, 
had unintentionally substituted her hus- 
band's nether habiliments for her own 
petticoats. ' The BAN-DOGS ! ' thundered 
a tall man whose stature and former 
avocations had procured him the nick- 
name of 'The long drover of the 
Borough market.' ' Where are they ? ' 
'Ay. where are they?' chorused the 
mob, flourishing their various weapons, 
and flashing their torches in the air ; 
' we'll sarve 'em out.' 

BANDS (old cant). To be 
hungry. See BANDED. 

B. AND s. (popular). An every- 
day colloquialism, in the ab- 
breviated form, for brandy and 

1868. WHYTE MELVILLE, White 
Rose, ch. xiii. Before the B. AND s. 
signifying a beaker of brandy and soda- 
water could make its appearance. 

1881. W. BLACK, Beautiful Wretch, 
ch. v. ' Come away, and I will get you 
some tea, though what would be better 
for you still, would be some B. AND s.' 

1882. Punch, vol. LXXXIL, p. 69, 
col. i. 

I'll sing you a fine new song, all about a 
fine young spark, 

Who's a fine young London gentleman, 
quite up to any lark, 

Who takes supper very early, and break- 
fasts in the dark ; 

Who's a real 'dear old chappie,' as I 
needn't perhaps remark. 

He will say that port and sherry his nice 

palate always cloy ; 
He'll nothing drink but ' B. AND s.' and 

big magnums of ' the boy ' ; 

He's the darling of the barmaid and the 

honest waiter's joy, 
As he quaffs his Pommery, ' Extra Sec,' 

his 'Giesler,' or ' Ivroy.' 

BANDY, subs, (thieves'). A six- 
pence ; so called, in the first 
instance, from these coins being 
often thin, worn, and bent. 
Also called a CRIPPLE and 
BENDER, but, for synonyms, 
see the latter. The term ap- 
pears in Grose [1785]. 

1819. T. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memo- 
rial, p. 25, 11. A BANDY or cripple, a six- 

1885. Household Words, June 20, 
p. 155. The sixpence is a coin more 
liable to bend than most others, so it is 
not surprising to find that several of its 
popular names have reference to this 
weakness. It is called a BANDY, a 
' bender,' a ' cripple.' 

BANG, subs, (colloquial). i. A 
blow ; Old Norse, bang, a 
hammering. Though a dic- 
tionary word, BANG has not yet 
succeeded in passing from the 
limbo of vulgarism in many of 
its uses. For example, a ' BANG 
of the door ' sounds legitimate 
enough, and is an expression 
to which even the most pro- 
nounced stickler for linguistic 
purity would scarcely object ; 
yet, a ' BANG on the nose ' or 
' jaw ' would, doubtless, be 
looked upon as low and vulgar. 
Only to illustrate such varia- 
tions, can the word find a 
fitting entry into these pages. 
Amongst pugilists and the 
vulgar, BANG is, without doubt, 
closely identified with personal 
castigation ; and, in this con- 

rare. To BANG one in the jaw; 
to spoil one's picture; to give 
a wipe on the nose ; to fetch 




one a stinger, etc. The blow 
itself is designated a whopper ; 
wipe ; clout ; prop ; cant ; dig ; 
corker ; shooting stars (in allu- 
sion to the dazed condition of a 
person so struck, stars being 
seen dancing before one's eyes). 

gnon (popular) ; un ecopage (fa- 
miliar) ; line dandine (popular) ; 
un cabochon (common) ; un es- 
taffion (popular : may be ren- 
dered ' a BANG on the nut ') ; 
un coup de gilquin (popular) ; un 
renfoncement (colloquial : ' a blow 
with the fist ' ; lit. ' an inden- 
tation ') ; une beugne (common) ; 
tine beigne (popular) ; une dariole 
(familiar : properly a kind of 
pastry) ; un coup de tampon (pop- 
ular : ' a hard shove ' ; tampon, 
' a buffer ') ; une balk de coton 
(popular) ; une baffre (popular : 
'a blow in the face with the 
fist ' ) ; un petard (familiar : 
either ' a box on the ear ' or 
' a cant on the gills ' ) ; une 
paraphe (popular : paraphe is 
properly the flourish added to 
one's signature) ; dcgradcr le 
portrait a qiielqu'un (popular : 
' to fetch one a BANG in the 
mug." Cf., ' to spoil one's pic- 
ture ') ; detacher un coup de pin- 
ceau sur la frimousse (popular : 
' to make pencil marks upon 
the face '; i.e., ' to spoil one's 
physiognomy,' the allusion 
presumably being to the face 
as the work of the Divine 
Artist). For other synonyms, 
see WIPE. 

2. A style adopted by women 
in dressing the hair upon the 
forehead, generally curled and 
frizzed, the process being thus 
described. To make the BANG, 
one must begin by dividing 
the front hair at half-inch 

distances from ear to ear, comb- 
ing the rest back. This is re- 
peated until the whole front hair 
has been successfully BANGED. 
In England these fringes are 
also called TOFFS (q.v .}. 

1880. W. D. HOWELL, The Undis- 
covered Country, ch. viii. When one 
lifted his hat to wipe his forehead, he 
showed his hair cut in front like a young 
lady's BANG. 

1883. Pall Mall Gazette, Dec. 19, p. 
4, col. i. It was no doubt unfortunate 
that when the Empress Eugenie cut her 
hair across her forehead from sorrow of 
heart, the women of five continents 
should imitate her until the BANG be- 
came universal. 

Verb. i. To deliver a bio was 
described under BANG (subs, i ) ; 
generally, to thump or strike 
violently ; to thrash. 

1588. Marprelate's Epistle, p. 4 (ed. 
Arber). His grace will cary to his grave 
I warrant you theblowes which M. Cart- 
wright gave him in this cause: and, 
therefore, no marvell though he was 
loth to have any other so BANGED as he 
himselfe was to his woe. 

1592. JOHN DAY, Blind Beggar, 
Act ii., Sc. 2, p. 37. I am sure my 
cloak cannot go without hands ; and I'll 
have it again, or I'll BANG it out of the 
coxcombs of some of them. 

b. 1719. H. CAREY, Sally in our 
Alley, st. 3. 

My master comes, like any Turk, 
And BANGS me most severely. 

1731. FIELDING, The Lottery, Sc. 2. 
Ah, think, my lord I how I should grieve 
to see your lordship BANG'D. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. II., p. 47. ' It was 
good stuff and good make at first, and 
hasn't been abused, and that's the rea- 
son why it always BANGS a slop, because 
it was good to begin with.' 

1884. Cornhill Mag., April, p. 442. 
' Davis,' said Toddy, ' you haven't had 
a BANGING this term, and you're getting 

2. To dress the hair with 
a fringe on the forehead, cut 
squarely across, so that it ends 

Bang-Beggar. Il8 


1882. Century Mag., XXV., 192. He 
was bareheaded, his hair BANGED even 
with his eyebrows in front. 

1888. Detroit Free Press. 
BANG, Sister, BANG with care ; 
If your poker's too hot you'll lose your 


3. To surpass ; to excel. 
So also BANGING, adj., great or 

4. (Stock Exchange.) To 
loudly offer stock with the in- 
tention of lowering the price. 


EYES, phr. (common). To be 
drunk. For synonyms, see 

BANG-BEGGAR, subs. (old). A con- 
stable or beadle. It is not quite 
clear whether this is not merely a 
dialecticism. In Lowland Scotch 
it signifies a strong staff. 

BANGER, subs, (common). A lie. 
Generally, THAT'S A BANGER! 
This elegant phrase is some- 
times varied by ' that's a WHOP- 
PER ' (q.v.) ; or the now classical 
' THUMPER ' (q.v.), an invention 
of the late Lord Iddesleigh. 

(Yale College). A club - like 
cane or stick ; a bludgeon. This 
word is one of the Yale voca- 
bles. HALL'S College Words and 

Yale Lit. Mag., vol. XX., p. 75. 
The Freshman reluctantly turned the 


Expecting a Sophomore gang to see, 
Who, with faces masked and BANGERS 

Had come resolved to smoke him out. 

BANG-OFF, adv. (familiar). With- 
out stopping; right away ;.., 
' I wrote as promised BANG-OFF,' 
i.e., without delay. [From 
BANG, a loud, sudden sound 
+ OFF, movement from a place 
or thing.] 

BANG-OUT. To BANG-OUT, verbal 
phi', (common). To depart 
hurriedly and with noise. 

Adv. phy. Completely, en- 
tirely, combined with sudden- 
ness ; e.g. , ' the candle went 

BANG-PITCHER, subs. (old). A 
drunkard. Possibly only dia- 

BANGSTER subs, (provincial). 
According to Jamieson : i. A 
violent and disorderly person, 
who regards no law but his 
own will. 2. A victor. 3. A 
braggart. 4. A loose woman. 

1820. SCOTT, The Abbot, rh.\ix. If 
the Pope's champions are to be BANG- 
STERS in our very change houses, we 
shall soon have the changelings back 
again. [H.] 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 
xxiii. If you are so certain of being the 
BANGSTER so very certain, I mean, of 
sweeping stakes, what harm will Miss 
Clara come to by your having the use of 
her siller. 

BANG-STRAW, subs. (old). A nick- 
name for a thresher of corn ; a 

BANG-TAILED, adj. (popular). 
Short tailed. Usually applied 
to horses. 

1861. HUGHES, Tom Brown at Ox- 
ford, ch. vi. ' These BANG-TAILED little 
sinners any good ? ' said Drysdale, 
throwing some cock-a-bondies across 
the table. 'Yes, I never like to be with- 
out them and a governor or two.' 

BANG-UP, adj. phr. (common). 
First-rate ; quite up to the 
mark ; A i ; slap up ; in the 
height of fashion. Also BANGED- 

1812. H. AND J. SMITH, Rejected 
Addresses, p. 188. Dance a BANG-UP 
theatrical cotillion. 

ft an }$>. 

119 Banian-Days. 

1842. LEVER, Jack Hinton, ch. vii. 
His hat set jauntily on one side, his 
spotted neckcloth knotted in BANG-UP 

1844. Quarterly Review, XXIV., 368. 
We could not resist giving a specimen 
of John Thorpe .... altogether the 
best portrait of a species which, though 
almost extinct, cannot yet be quite 
classed among the Palosotheria, the 
BANG-UP Oxonian. 

1846. THACKERAY, V. Fair, vol. I., 
ch. xxxiv. There appeared on the 
cliff in a tax cart, drawn by a BANG-UP 
pony ... his friends, the Sutbury Pet 
and the Rottingdean Fibber. 

Subs. Also used substan- 
tively as in the following 
example ; that which is quite 
right ; the ' thing '; the ' go.' 

1882. Punch, LXXXIL, 185, i. Modern 
Life in London, or Tom and jerry back 
again. The trio turned into the ARCADE, 
and saw a number of gay sparks and fair 
ones promenading. 'Twas a curious 
sight, a glimpse of LIFE IN LONDON, one 
of its primest features, and yet, as the 
CORINTHIAN remarked to his Coz, these 
people seemed like the ' ghosts of a 
former generation.' ' These then are 
the dandies, the fops, the goes and the 
BANG-UPS, these the CORINTHIANS of to- 
day," was also Tom's exclamation to 
young Bob, who said, ' I don't know 
about being CORINTHIANS, but some of 
these fellows are very ' good form,' and 
as to being BANG-UP, a good many poor 
old chappies are deuced hard-up.' 

Yerb tr. To make smart ; to 
produce in first-rate style. 

1821. COOMBE, Dr. Syntax, Tour iii., 
c. v. 

Pat to his neckcloth gave an air 
In style, and a la militaire ; 
His pocket too a kerchief bore 
With scented water sprinkled o'er ; 
Thus BANGED-UP, sweeten'd, and clean 

The sage the dinner-table braved. 

BANGY, sw&s. (Winchester College). 
'Brown ' sugar. From Ban- 
galore, a once coarse-growing 
sugar country. 

Adj. Colour of brown sugar ; 
e.g. , BANGY BAGS, brown trousers. 
These were also called BANGIES. 

So universally was the term 
BANGY used to designate a 
brownish hue, that a gate of 
that colour at Winchester Col- 
lege, formerly leading from 
Grass Court into Sick House 
Meads, was called the BANGY 
Gate. The name is now often 
used for the gate by Racquet 
Court, into Kingsgate Street. 

(nautical) . Those days in which 
sailors have no flesh meat. Pro- 
bably derived from the practice 
of the Banians, a caste of Hin- 
doos, traders or merchants, who 
entirely abstained from all ani- 
mal food. 

1690. OVINGTON, in Yules' A nglo-In- 
'dian Glossary. Of kitcheney (butter, 
rice, and dai)the European sailors feed 
in these parts, and are forced at such 
times to a Pagan abstinence from flesh, 
which creates in them an utter detesta- 
tion to those BANIAN-DAYS as they call 

1748. SMOLLETT, Rod. Random, ch. 
xxv. They told me that on Mondays, 
Wednesdays, and Fridays, the ship's 
company had no allowance of meat, 
and that these meagre days were called 
BANYAN-DAYS, the reason of which they 
did not know ; but I have since learned 
they take their denomination from 
a sect of devotees in some parts of the 
East Indies, who never taste flesh. 

1820. LAMB, Elia (Christ's Hospi- 
tal). We had three BANYAN to four meat 
DAYS in the week. 

1855. THACKERAY, Newcomes, ch. 
Ixiii. If he might be so bold as to carry 
on the Eastern metaphor, he would say, 
knowing the excellence of the Colonel's 
claret and the splendour of his hos- 
pitality, that he would prefer a cocoa- 
nut day at the Colonel's to a BANYAN- 
DAY anywhere else. 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack. [From Strolling 
Players' bill.] WOOLDRIDGE'S THEATRE. 
Wanted 700 men, to man that splendid 
first-class Frigate, ' The Theatre,' com- 
manded by A. J . Wooldridge, now lying 
at her moorings, in Cheapside. Mr. 
Wooldridge, with all due respects to 
his brother Tars, hopes they will lend a 
hand to man his Vessel. He cannot 




offer them a barrel of Ale, but he will 
make them a promise of his unfeigned 
thanks and gratitude for this and past 
favours, with his hearty good wishes for 
the prosperity of the Town and Trade of 
Brighton ; that his Shipmates, wherever 
bound, may set sail with fair wind and 
good passage ; that they may never have 
short allowance BANYAN DAYS; or a 
southerly wind in the Bread Basket. 

BANJO, subs, (common). A bed- 
pan ; also called a FIDDLE or 
SLIPPER (q.v.) the latter from 
an improved shape which 
allows of its being slipped in 
without disturbing the patient. 

BANK, subs, (common). A lump 
sum of money ; one's fortune. 

Verb (thieves'). i. To secure; 
to obtain (in a pilfering sense). 

2. To put in a place of 

3. To go shares; to divide 
fairly with confederates. 

4. (prison.) Millbank prison. 

1889. A nswcrs, May 25, p. 412. We 
approached our destination, Millbank 
the BANK in a convict's parlance. 

BANKERS, subs. (old). Clumsy 
boots and shoes ; now called 
beetle-crushers. For synonyms 
generally, see TROTTER-CASES. 

BANK SHAVING, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can. Before banks were regu- 
lated by Act of Congress, a 
practice prevailed among the 
least reputable of such institu- 
tions of purchasing notes of 
hand and similar documents at 
enormously usurious rates of 
discount. Many were the faci- 
lities for sharp practice of every 
kind. Such banks were called 
shaving banks, and the unfortu- 
nate wretch who thus ' raised 
the wind ' was said to GET HIS 
PAPER SHAVED. The origin of 
the phrase may be looked for 
in maritime nomenclature, a 

shaver from a sailor's point of 
view being a man who is cute 
and unscrupulous possibly 
from the unpleasant operation 
of shaving on board ship when 
crossing the line. 

BANKSIDE LADIES, subs. phr. (old). 
Ladies of more complaisance 
than virtue. BANKSIDE, South- 
wark, was once the fashionable 
theatrical quarter of London. 
There stood once the Globe, the 
Swan, the Rose, and the Hope 
theatres. On the boards of the 
first-named originally appeared 
most of Shakspeare's plays. 
In Old London the neighbour- 
hoods of the principal theatres 
appear to have been noted for 
anything but vestal virtue. 
Covent Garden and Drury Lane, 
like BANKSIDE, have entered 
largely into the vicious slang of 
the past. 
1638. RANDOLPH, Muses' Looking- 

Glass, O. PL, 9., 206. Come, I will send 

for a whole coach or two of BANKSIDE 

LADIES, and we will be jovial. 

BANK-SNEAK, 51/65. (American). 
A variety of the genus thief who 
confines his attention to bank 
robberies. Smart, clever, well- 
dressed, they usually work in 
gangs, two or three confede- 
rates being employed as cover 
whilst the leader does the work. 
In large towns considerable 
finesse is exhibited by these 
men in effecting their purpose ; 
but in the more thinly popu- 
lated districts polish and ruse 
are abandoned in favour of 
more drastic methods. The 
BANK-SNEAK of the West pur- 
sues his depredations more as 
a bandit; his city confrere is 
more adroit, and therefore in- 
finitely more dangerous. For 
synonyms, see AREA-SNEAK. 




1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, Feb. 16. 
Buffalo officers to-day picked out from a 
batch of Erie convicts Watt N. Jones, 
the notorious BANK-SNEAK and burglar 
so widely known professionally in every 
city of the United States and Canada. 

BANNER, subs. (American news- 
boys'). The money paid for 
board and lodging at the homes 
frequented by these flying mer- 
curies. The origin of the term 
is unknown. 

BANT, verb (common.) To follow 
the dietary prescribed by Mr. 
Banting. See BANTING. 

BANTING, subs. (common). A 
course of diet by which fat people 
seek to reduce their bulk. It 
consists in strictly discarding 
as food all articles known to 
favour the development of adi- 
pose tissue. It was introduced 
about the year 1864 by a Mr. 
W. Banting hence the name. 
The dietary recommended was 
the use of butcher's meat prin- 
cipally, and abstinence from 
beer, farinaceous food, and 
vegetables. Also figuratively, 
to reduce in any way. 

1864. Times, 12 Aug., 4. The classics 
seemed to have undergone a successful 
course of BANTING. 

1868. Miss BRADDON, Only a Clod, 
p. 114. She was a rigid disciplinarian of 
the school formed by Mr. BANTING. 
Ibid, p. 113. A parlour where all the 
furniture seemed to have undergone a 
prolonged course of BANTING. 

1883. Knowledge, 27 July, p. 49, 
col. 2. BANTINGISM excludes beer, 
butter, and sugar. 

BANTLING, subs. (old). A young, 
or small child. This word, 
once slang, is now a received 
dictionary word. It is stated 
in Bacchus and Venus [1737], and 
by Grose, to be a cant term. It 
was formerly synonymous with 

bastard. Appended are a few 
examples of its use when knock- 
ing for admittance at the doors 
of the dictionaries. 

1593. DRAYTON, Eclog., vii., 102. 
Lovely Venus . . . smiling to see her 
wanton BANTLINGS game. 

1635. QUARLES, Emblems, II., viii. 
(1718), 93. See how the dancing bells 
turn round ... to please my BANTLING. 

1748. SMOLLETT, Rod. Random, ch. 
xlvii. ' That he may at once deliver 
himself from the importunities of the 
mother and the suspense of her BANT- 

1751. SMOLLETT, Peregrine Pickle, 
ch. Ixxx. ' Let the BANTLINGS,' said 
she, ' be sent to the hospital . . . and 
a small collection be made for the present 
support of the mother." 

1758. GOLDSMITH, Essays, x. Who 
follow the camp, and keep up with the 
line of march, though loaded with BANT- 
LINGS and other baggage. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 
xxi. ' Sell me to a gipsy, to carry 
pots, pans, and beggars BANTLINGS.' 

BANTY, adj. (American thieves'). 
Saucy ; impudent. 

(old) . Mixed with water ; 
spirits and wines are said to be 
BAPTISED when diluted. The 
French equivalent is chrt-tien ; 
also baptise. 

1636. HEALEY, Theophrastus, 46. 
He wil give his best friends his BAPTIZED 

BAR, verb and prep, (colloquial and 
racing). i. Used as a verb BAR 
signifies to exclude ; to prohibit ; 
also to object to- a person or 
action. Its lineage is of un- 
doubted respectability, but its 
usage is now but little removed 
from the vulgar. As a pre- 
position it is synonymous with 
' except ' mainly used in 
racing ; e.g., ' Four to one BAR 
one. 1 
c. 1598. SHAKSPEARE, M. of Venice, 

ii., 2, 207. Nay, but I AK to-night: 

Baragan Tailor. 122 Barber's Chaiv. 

you shall not gauge me by what we do 

1672. WYCHERLEY, Love in a Wood, 
wks. III. (1712), 382. That were as hard 
as to BAR a young parson in the pulpit, 
the fifth of November, railing at the 
Church of Rome. 

1697. VANBRUGH, dlsop, Act ii. 
What I have in my mind, out it comes : 
but BAR that; I'se an honest lad as well 
as another. 

1752. FOOTE, Taste, Act ii. I don't 
suppose now, but, BARRING the nose, 
Roubiliac could cut as good a head every 

1818. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. iii. ' I 
should like to try that daisy-cutter of 
yours upon a piece of level road (BAR- 
RING canter) for a quart of claret at the 
next inn.' 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. lv., 

E. 483. Til bet you ten guineas to five, 
e cuts his throat,' said Wilkins Flasher, 
Esquire. ' Done,' replied Mr. Simmery. 
' Stop ! I BAR,' said Wilkins Flasher, 
Esquire, thoughtfully. ' Perhaps he may 
hang himself.' 

2. (American thieves'.) To 
stop ; to cease. Obviously an 
attributive meaning of the legi- 
timate word. 

3. (American colloquial.) A 
spurious verb, the signification 
of which is derived from the 
drinking-bar. Thus a tippler 
is said TO BAR too much when 
given to inordinate drinking. 

BARAGAN TAILOR, subs, (tailors'). 
A rough-working tailor. 

BARB, verb (old cant). To BARB 
gold was heretofore a cant term 
for clipping or shaving it. The 
modern term is TO SWEAT (q.v.). 
[Apparently from to BARBER, to 
shave or trim.] 

1610. BEN JON SON, Alchemist, I., i. 
Ay, and perhaps thy neck within a 
noose, for laundring gold, and BARB- 
ING it. 

BARBER, verb- (University). - 
When impositions are worked 
off by deputy they are said to 

be BARBERISED. Tradition re- 
lates that a learned barber was 
at one time frequently employed 
as a scapegoat in working oft 
this species of punishment in- 
flicted on peccant students 
hence the expression. A story 
ben trovato esd non e vero ! 

catch-phrase, says Grose, about 
the year 1760. There is nothing 
new under the sun ; not even 
idiotic and wearisome street 
cries, which so many good phi- 
lologists deplore as a sign of 
the depravity of the times. 
' Who's your hatter ? ' and 
1 How's your poor feet ? ' meant 
nothing, save a general and in- 
definite comment on any action, 
measure, or thing. ' ALL SE- 
RENE! ' (q.v.) is presumably its 
nearest modern street equivalent. 

BARBER'S-CAT, sz^s.(old). A weak, 
sickly looking individual. In 
French such a person is called 
un faiblard and un astec, the 
latter an allusion to the Mexi- 
can dwarfs. According to 
Hotten, the term is also ' used 
in connexion with an expression 
too coarse to print.' 

BARBER'S-CHAIR, subs. (old). A 
prostitute ; a drab ; a strumpet. 
So called from a BARBER'S- 
CHAIR being common to all 
comers. It will be remembered 
that Shakspeare in All's Well 
[ii., 2.] likens an all-embracing 
answer to a question to ' a 
BARBER'S-CHAIR that fits all 
buttocks ; the pin-buttock, the 
quatch-buttock, the brawn-but- 
tock, or any buttock.' 

1621. BURTON, Anatomy of Melan- 
choly, III. iv., i, iii. (1651), 665. A 
notorious strumpet as common as a 




1708. MOTTEUX, Rabelais' Pantagr., 
Prognost. v. Bonarobaes. BARBER'S- 
CHAIRS, hedge whores. 

BARBER'S-CLERK, subs, (common). 
A term of reproach generally 
applied by mechanics and 
artisans to overdressed and 
vaunting clerks and shopmen. 
In a secondary sense it is used 
of anyone over-particular in his 
personal appearance . The 
phrases ' oh, he's just come 
from the barber's,' and ' one of 
Truefitt's young men ' are com- 
mon enough. 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Bos, 
p. 155. ' Tailor ! ' screamed a third. 
'BARBER'S-CLERK!' shouted a fourth. 
1 Throw him O-VER ! ' roared a fifth. [D.] 

BARBER'S Music, subs. (old). 
Harsh and roughly discordant 
music. Barber's shops were 
formerly places of great resort, 
and the old plays are full of 
references to the means by 
which customers, while wait- 
ing their turn, wiled away the 
time. Amongst other things it 
was usual to provide a cittern, 
a musical instrument similar to 
a guitar, upon which any who 
chose could try their skill. 
Many of the old proverbs refer 
to this circumstance. Ben Jon- 
son in The Silent Woman [iii., 
5] makes Morose say of his wife 
whom his barber had recom- 
mended, ' I have married his 
cittern that is common to all 
men ' ; and Matheo, in The 
Honest Whore, speaks of a bar- 
ber's citterne for every serving 
man to play upon. Therefore, 
it is little wonder that BARBER'S 
MUSIC should be synonymous 
with discord. 

1660. PEPYS, June 5. My lord 
called for the lieutenant's cittern, and 
with two candlesticks with money in 

them for symbols (cymbals) we made 

HEAD, phr. (American). Bald- 
headed. The application of the 
simile is obvious. 

phr. (old). A species of low 
wit, much in vogue about the 
latter end of the reign of Queen 
Anne, but which is of much 
more ancient usage. It is 
frequently alluded to by Swift, 
who remarks that ' the maids of 
honor often amused themselves 
with it.' If so, it seems incredi- 
ble ; and one would say so much 
the worse for the ' maids of 
honor.' It is thus described : 
A person would come into a 
room full of company, appa- 
rently in a fright, crying out, 
' It is white, and follows me ! ' 
On any of the company asking 
what ? the bargain was sold by 
the first speaker naming a cer- 
tain portion of the body. In 
another, and happily more de- 
cent form, this somewhat sense- 
less ' sell ' still has a vogue. This 
slang expression and practice 
was apparently well known to 
Shakspeare, who makes Costard 
use it in Love's Labour Lost 
[Act iii., Sc. i] , ' The boy hath 
sold him a bargain." 

BARGE, subs, (printers'). i. A 
' case ' in which there is an un- 
due proportion of some letters, 
and a corresponding shortness 
of those which are most valu- 

2. The term is also applied 
among printers to a card or 
small box on or in which 
' spaces ' are put while correct- 
ing formes away from ' case,' 




Verb. To abuse ; to slang. 
C/., BULLYRAG. The allusion 
is, of course, to the rough mode 
of speaking peculiar to bargees 
or bargemen. 

1861. ALBERT SMITH, Medical Stu- 
dent, p. 102. ' Whereupon they all began 
to BARGE the master at once ; one saying 
"his coffee was all snuff and chick- 

(Uppingham School.) To 
knock against a person ; to 
come into collision with. 

BARGE-ARSE, subs, (common). A 
man or woman of rotund de- 
velopment at the back. [From 
BARGE, a clumsy vessel, + 
ARSE, O.K., posterior or but- 
tock.] A low term of ridicule. 
Also used as an adjective, 


BARGE-POLE, subs. (Winchester 
College). A large stick or thick 
bough, of which there was one 
in each fagot. Also generally 
used for any large piece of wood. 

BARK, subs, (common). i. An 
Irishman or Irishwoman. C/., 

1869. Notes and Queries, 4 S., in., 
406. In Lancashire an Irishman is 
vulgarly called a BARK. 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 191. Mike when 
asked by some of his countrymen wKy 
he called Fairbanks a ' BARK,' i.e., an 
Irishman, said, ' If I had not put the 
' bark' on him he would have put it on 
me, so I had the first pull.' 

2. The skin. This occurs 
also dialectically. In Alan 
Ramsay's poems [1758] it is so 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
ch. xx., p. 209. To the great detriment 
of what is called by fancy gentlemen the 
BARK upon his shins, which were most 
unmercifully bumped against the hard 
leather and the iron buckles. 

1876. Family Herald, 2 Dec., p. 80, 
col. i. With the BARK all off his shins 
from a blow with a hockey stick. 

3. (colloquial.) A cough. 
Cf., verb, To BARK, sense 2. 

Verb. i. To scrape; or rub 
off the skin ; to abraise. 

1856. HUGHES, Tom Brown's School- 
days, p. 227. So, after getting up [the 
tree] three or four feet, down they came 
slithering to the ground, BARKING their 
arms and faces. 

1859. Macmillan's Magazine, Nov., 
p. 18. The knuckles of his right hand 
were BARKED. 

1872. MARK TWAIN, Roughing It, p. 
16 (Routledge's ed.). Every time we 
avalanched from one end of the stage to 
the other, the ' Unabridged Dictionary ' 
would come too ; and, every time it 
came, it damaged somebody. One trip 
it BARKED the Secretary's elbow ; the 
next trip it hurt me in the stomach, and 
the third, it tilted Bemis's nose up till he 
could look down his nostrils he said. 

2. To cough; generally ap- 
plied when it is persistent and 


ON IT, phr. (American). With- 
out mincing the matter ; with- 
out circumlocution. 

1872. MARK TWAIN, Roughing It, 
chap. xv. If ever another man gives a 
whistle to a child of mine, and I get my 
hands on him, I will hang him higher 
than Haman ! That is THE WORD WITH 



(popular). To reduce in value, 
either deliberately, or by acci- 
dent ; a figurative usage of ' to 
graze, 1 ' to take the skin off.' 

1849. DICKENS, David Copperfield, 
p. 310. I rode my gallant grey so close 
to the wheel, that I grazed his near fore- 
leg against it and TOOK THE BARK OFF, 
as his owner toki me, to the tune of three 
pun' sivin. 

1853. REV. ED. BRADLEY ('Cuthbert 
Bede'), Further Adventures of Verdant 
Green, p. 31. That'll TAKE THE BARK 
FROM your nozzle, and distil the Dutch 
pink for you, won't it ? 





loquial). To clamour uselessly ; 
to agitate to no effect ; to labour 

1630. TAYLOR'S Workes. And thus 
my booke and comparisons end to- 
gether ; for thus much I know, that I 
have but all this while BARK'D AT THE 
MOONE, throwne feathers against the 
winde, built upon the sands, vsash'd a 
blackmore, and laboured in vaine. 

BARKER, subs, (popular). i. A 
pistol. [From BARKER, a noisy 
assailant, i.e., one who barks 
like a dog.] Sometimes called 
BARKING IRON (q .v .) . The lat- 
ter, as far as is known, is the 
oldest term. An early use 
of BARKERS bears date of 1815, 
whilst BARKING IRON occurs in 
Parker's Life's Painter, 1789. 

1815. SCOTT, Guy Mannering, ch. 
xxxiii. ' Had he no arms ? ' asked the 
Justice. ' Ay, ay, they are never without 
BARKERS and slashers.' 

1837. DICKENS, Oliver Twist, ch. 
xxii. ' BARKERS for me, Barney,' said 
Toby Crackit. ' Here they are,' replied 
Barney, producing a pair of pistols. 

1857. C. KINGSLEY, Two Years Ago, 
ch. xxiv. I'll give you five for those 
pistols . . . being rather a knowing one 
about the pretty little BARKERS. 

in the pot.' (A Texan term, al- 
luding to the means by which 
meat is literally provided for the 
pot. Texan figures of speech 
are often startling enough in 
originality and sententiousness. 
Nor is the moral ingenuity re- 
vealed by this vernacular less 
striking; e.g., when revolvers 
are said ' to make all men equal. ') 
Other synonyms for revolvers 
of similar character are 'my 
unconverted friend ' ; 'a one- 
eyed scribe ' (an argument al- 
ways persuasive and sometimes 
unanswerable) ; ' blue lightning ' 
(sometimes a tragedy in three 

acts: Act i., a word; Act ii., a 
flash of blue lightning ; and Act 
iii., certain death); 'whistler' 
(from the sharp hissing sound 
of a bullet in its flight) ; ' peace- 
maker ' (a sarcastic commentary 
on the proverb that ' short reck- 
onings make long friends ' ) ; 
dag ; pop ; etc. 

(popular : a literal translation of 
' barker'; also 'a tout'); unpitroux 
(thieves' : in the old Provencal, 
pitrou bore the sense of a piece 
of wood or stick, and it is pos- 
sible that French thieves have 
here merely transferred the 
name from one weapon to 
another) ; unpetouze (a play upon 
words. In the old cant petouze 
signified the ancient coin known 
as a pistole) ; un bayafe (thieves' : 
formerly baillaf, a term em- 
ployed by the robbers who in- 
fested the highways of Southern 
France. It is thought to be de- 
rived from two words bailler, to 
give, and affe or rather a/re, 
signifying fear) ; un mandolet 
(thieves' ) ; pied de cochon (mili- 
tary : literally ' a pig's foot ' ; 
a variety of weapon of large 
size and calibre) ; un crucifix or 
un crucifix a ressort (thieves' : 
literally ' a crucifix,' or ' a cru- 
cifix with a spring ' ) ; un soufflant 
(thieves': souffle t = to whisper); 
les burettes (thieves' and popu- 
lar : literally 'phials'). 

2. (common.) A man em- 
ployed to stand in front of shops 
and shows to attract the atten- 
tion of passers-by , and if possible 
to entice them inside, where he 
can safely leave them to the 
tender mercies of the salesmen. 
The origin of the term is ob- 
vious ; and, it is interesting to 
note that BARKER has its exact 




equivalent in the French aboyeur. 
Amongst touting photographers, 
in low neighbourhoods, this in- 
dividual is called a DOORSMAN, 
and the term is likewise applied 
to auction-room touts. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BARKER (s.), a salesman's servant that 
walks before his door, to invite cus- 
tomers in to buy cloaths. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BARKER. The shop- 
man of a dealer in second-hand clothes, 
particularly about Monmouth St., who 
walks before his shop and deafens 
every passenger with his cries ot 
clothes, coats, or gowns, ' what d'ye want 
gemmen, what d'ye buy ? ' 

1828. JON. BEE, Picture of London, 
p. 109. Mock-auctions and ' selling-off ' 
shops are not the only pests where 
BARKERS are kept at the doors to invite 
unwary passengers to ' walk in, walk in, 
sale just begun.' 

1888. Texas Siftings, Oct. 13. I am 
a BARKER by profession. The pedes- 
trian agility required to pace up and 
down before the ' Half-dime Museum of 
Anatomy and Natural History,' solicit- 
ing passers-by to enter, is of itself 
enormous ; but where it gets in its base 
hit is when it increases the appetite. 
McGinty knows this. McGinty is my 
friend, but I wouldn't serve a tenth of 
his unexpired terms for ten dollars. I 
have peddled clams with McGinty and 
have seen him eat three bushels of our 
stock. That is nothing. When the 
show isn't paying, I have to go out and 
eat grass. This shows you what nickel- 
plated, back-action appetites we have. 

3. A man with a trouble- 
some cough ; his complaint is 
otherwise known as a ' CHURCH- 
QUIT' (q.v.). 

4. (nautical.) Besides being 
used as a designation for a 
pistol, BARKER is also em- 
ployed for lower deck guns on 
board ship. 

1842. COOPER, Jack O' Lanthprne, I., 
151. Four more carronades with two 
BARKERS for'ard. 

5. See quotation, as follows : 

1879. GREENWOOD, Outcasts of Lon- 
don. But what was barking ? i thought 
a great deal about the matter, and could 
arrive at no more feasible conclusion 
than that a BARKER was a boy that 
attended a drover, and helped him to 
drive his sheep by means of imitating 
the bark of a dog. 

6. (University.) A noisy 
assertive individual ; and, in a 
complimentary sense, a great 

7. (American.) A noisy 
coward ; a blatant bully. 

BAR KEY (nautical). A term of 
endearment in use amongst sea- 
faring men when speaking of a 
vessel to which they have got 
attached. ' She's a BARKEY 
she is, my lads ! ' 

BARKING-IRONS, snbs. (thieves'). 
Pistols. C/., BARKER, sense i. 
BARKING-IRON is, historically, 
an older term than BARKER by 
about a quarter of a century. 
Formerly applied, in the navy, 
to large duelling pistols. 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 

p. 173. Pistols, BARKING-IRONS. 

1834. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, 
bk. II., ch. vi. ' And look you, prick the 
touch-hole, or your BARKING-IRON will 
never bite for you.' 

(American). A taking advan- 
tage of some obstacle or shield 
for saying or doing something, 
which, but for such protection, 
would not be said or done ; or 
which if done or said might 
entail unpleasant consequences 
upon the sayer or doer. 

BARKSHIRE, 51/65. (common). Ire- 
land. See BARK. 

Bark up Wrong Tree. I2 7 


phr. (American). Of trapper 
and pioneer derivation, and 
idiomatically used to signify 

, that a person is at fault as to 
his purpose, or the means by 
which he is endeavouring to 
attain his object. The ex- 
pression arose in this way : 
the Western huntsman found 
that his prey gradually became 
more and more wily and cun- 
ning in eluding pursuit, and 
frequently he and his dogs 
were at fault, supposing they 
had ' treed ' their game when 
in reality, especially in the case 
of opossums and squirrels and 
such - like animals, it had 
escaped by jumping from the 
boughs of one tree to another. 
The dogs consequently were 


1835. Richmond Enquirer, Sep. 8. 
' You didn't really go to old Bullion,' 
said a politician to an office-seeker, 
' Why, he has no influence there, I can 
tell you. You BARKED UP THE WRONG 
TREE there, my friend, and you deserve 
to fail.' 

1888. Detroit Free Press, Oct. Pro- 
fessor Rose who 'hit' this town last 
spring is around calling us a fugitive 
from justice, and asking why the police 
don't do something. Gently, Professor. 
When we left Xenia, O., the Sheriff 
patted us on the back and lent us half-a- 
dollar. We are the only man in this 
town who doesn't turn pale when the 
stage comes in, and the only one who 
doesn't break for the sage brush when it 
is announced that the United States 
Marshal is here. We ain't rich or 
pretty, but we are good, and the Pro- 

phr. (popular). To move 
expeditiously ; irregularly. 

BARNACLE, subs, (old cant). I. 
A pickpocket. For synonyms, 

b. 1809, d. 1870. MARK LEMON, Leyton 
Hall. The man that stood beside thee 
is old Crookfinger, the most notorious 
setter, BARNACLE and foist in the city. 

2. (old.) A good job, or 
snack easily got. Lexicon 
Balatronicum (1811). 

3. (old.) A gratuity given 
to grooms by the buyers and 
sellers of horses. Lexicon 
Balatronicum (1811). 

4. (old.) A constant atten- 
dant ; he who, or that which 
sticks to one like a barnacle to 
a ship's bottom. 

1607. DEKKER, Northward Hoe ! III., 
wks., 1873, III., 39. He cashiere all my 
yong BARNICLES. [M.] 

1868. Miss BRADDON, Trail of the 
Serpent, I., i., 7. Slopper found him a 
species of BARNACLE rather difficult to 
shake off. 

5. (old cant.) A decoy 
swindler ; from the pertinacity 
with which such a one fastens on 
to a victim , and will not be shaken 
off until the purpose in view is 
effected. Cf., senses i and 4. 

1591. GREENE, Notable Discovery of 
Coosnage (1859), 23. Thus doth the Verser 
and the Setter feign a kind friendship to 
the Cony ... As thus they sit tippling, 
corns the BARNACKLE and thrusts open 
the doore . . . steps back again: and 
very mannerly saith I cry you mercy, 
Gentlemen. I thoght a frend of mine 
had bin heere. 

1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, 
wks. (1885) III., 131. He that . . .before 
counterfeited the dronken Bernard is 
now sober and called the BARNACLE. 

6. (old.) An individual 
speaking with a nasal twang ; 
one who speaks through his 

1591. PERCIVALL, Sp. Dictionary. 
Gango, a BARNACLE, one that speaketh 
through the nose, Chenolopex. [Chenalo- 
pex in Pliny, a species of goose.J [M.] 

BARNACLES, subs, (popular). i. 
Spectacles. Fprmerly applied 



Bavnet Pair. 

only to spectacles with side 
pieces of coloured glass, and 
used more as protectors from 
wind, dust, and glaring light 
than as aids to the sight. 
Hence used popularly for all 
kinds of glasses. The deriva- 
tion seems uncertain. The 
principal suggested origins 
are : (i) a corruption of bino- 
culis [from Latin bini, double, 
+ oculus, an eye] ; (2) an attri- 
butive Usage Of BARNACLES, 
which, with ' horse-twitchers ' 
or 'brakes,' are tools put on 
the nostrils of horses when they 
will not stand still to be shooed ; 
and in support of this it has 
been pointed out [N. and Q., 
i S., v., 13] the figure of the 
BARNACLE borne in heraldry 
sufficiently shows why the 
term has been transferred to 
spectacles, which were formerly 
only kept in position by the 
manner in which they clipped 
the nose; (3) that BARNACLES 
are so called from the similarity 
in shape to the black streak 
which proceeds from the upper 
part of the beak in a line to the 
corner of, and right round the 
eye of the bernicle, or BARNACLE 
goose (Anser bernicla). There is 
a strong resemblance in the 
mark to a pair of spectacles. 

1571. Damon and Pythias (Dodsley's 
Old Plays), Hazlett IV., 81. These 
spectales put on. Grim. They be gay 
BARNACLES, yet I see never the better. 

Translation of Rabelais, bk. V., ch. 
xxvii. They had BARNACLES on the 
handles of their faces, or spectacles at 

The difference between spec- 
tacles and BARNACLES seems to 
be indicated in this passage. In 
the original French the phrase 
reads ' bezicles au nez.' A later 

quotation illustrative of the 
usage is : 

1822. SCOTT, The Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. i. ' Give me the BARNACLES, my 
good youth, and who can say what nose 
they may bestride in two years hence ? ' 

'Bossers'; 'gig-lamps'; 
' goggles.' A man wearing 
these aids to sight is sometimes 
called ' FOUR EYES ' (q.v.). 

persiennes (popular : properly 
'Venetian shutters'); une 
v Urine (popular : literally ' a 
shop window,' or glass case in 
a museum). 

2. (old cant.) See quota- 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BARNACLES (s.) .... in the Canting 
Language, a pair of spectacles ; also the 
irons or fetters worn by felons are so 
called ; also the gratuity or reward that 
jockies have for buying horses for 

BARNDOOR, subs, (sporting). i. A 
facetious term for a target too 
large to be missed ; i.e., as large 
as a BARNDOOR. Hence BARN- 
DOOR PRACTICE as applied to 
organised battues, in which 
game is driven within a range 
from which it is impossible to 
escape. This can hardly be 
called sport ; rather let it be 
known as ' slaughter.' 

2. (cricket.) A player who 
blocks every ball. 

BARNET! intj. (Christ's Hospital). 
Nonsense ! humbug ! Now 

BARNET FAIR, subs, (thieves'). 
The hair ; part of the RHYMING 
SLANG (q-v.}. For synonyms 




BARNEY, subs, (popular). I. A 
word which varies in sense ac- 
cording to the predelictions of 
the person using it. Generally 
speaking it means a jollification ; 
'lark' ; pleasurable outing ; pic- 
nic. The 'Arries and roughs of 
London, however, always asso- 
ciate it with a certain amount 
of rowdyism. Its derivation is 
unknown, although Barrere 
gives a long dissertation con- 
cerning its origin in the Yiddish. 
As, however, this is founded 
mainly upon a misreading of a 
quotation from Punch, it is some- 
what beside the mark. 

2. Humbug; cheating; a 
hoax; something pre-arranged 
not genuine. In sporting cir- 
cles it signifies an unfair race of 
any kind. 

1865. B. BRIERLEY, Irkdale, II., 19. 
I won thee i' fair powell one toss an' no 


1882. Evening News, 2 Sept., p. i, 
col. 6. Blackguardly BARNEYS called 
boxing competitions. [M.] 

Murray gives this last in illus- 
tration of the secondary sense 
which he applies to the word, 
viz., a prize-fight. BARNEY, it is 
true, does signify a prize-fight, 
but it means more than that. A 
fair contest would not be so 
named ; there must be an ele- 
ment of chicanery in the mat- 
ter. Besides which, BARNEY 
is applied to unfair sporting 
competitions of any kind. A 
comparison of the different quo- 
tations given under this heading 
will clearly prove that point. 

1884. Referee, April 13, p. 7, col. 4. 
Who would believe that Mr. Gladstone 
shammed being ill, and that Sir Andrew 
Clark issued false bulletins, and that 
the whole thing was a BARNEY from 
beginning to end. 

1885. Bell's Life, Jan. 3, p. 3, col. 4. 
Few genuine matches have taken place 

this season on the Transatlantic waters, 
though exhibitions and BARNEY contests 
have been plentiful. 

3. (American.) At Harvard 
College, about the year 1810, 
this word was used to designate 
a bad recitation. To BARNEY 
was to recite badly. HALL'S 
College Words and Customs. 

A BARN-MOUSE, phr. (old). To 
be tipsy; 'screwed.' The 
Lexicon Balatronicum says ' it is 
probably an allusion to barley,' 
presumably as the source of 
malt liquor. Cf., 'To HAVE 


be tipsy ; also BARLEY-CAP = 
a tippler. 

BARN-STORMER, subs, (theatrical). 
A deprecatory epithet applied 
to strolling players. 

1884. Pall Mall Gazette, 6 June, p. 5, 
col. i. If this be BARN-STORMING, 
Betterton and Garrick were BARN- 

1886. Graphic, 10 April, p. 399. 
Travelling players who acted short and 
highly tragic pieces to audiences of 
clodpoles in any barn or shed they 
could get, used to be known as BARN- 
STORMERS, and a ranting, noisy style of 
acting and speaking is still called ' barn- 

1887. Referee, 21 August, p. 3, col. i. 
Mr. Edward Terry has again been elected 
at the head of the poll as trustee of the 
charities of Barnes. He is not the 
first clev r actor who has been known 

The French term for one of 
such a troupe is cabotin. 

BARNUMESE, subs. (American). 
Barnum, the proprietor of 'the 
greatest show upon earth,' has 
at any rate one claim to im- 
mortal fame in having, like 
Boycot, Burke, and Balfour, 
added a new word to the 
English tongue. The ' high 
falutin," bombastic style of the 




great man's announcements are 
notorious ; as much so, in fact, 
as is the diction of the great 
London newspaper which claims 
' the largest circulation in the 
world.' From such circum- 
stances we get words like BAR- 
NUMESE and telegraphese, to 
signify exaggeration of style 
what in slang parlance is 
known as the ' putting on of 

Verb. To BARNUMIZE is to 
talk or assert oneself in the 
style popularly attributed to 

BARONET, subs. (old). A humorous 
variation for sirloin [of beef]. 

1749. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. IV., 
ch. x. The sight of the roast beef struck 
him dumb, permitting him only to say 
grace, and to declare he must pay his 
respects to the BARONET, for so he called 
the sirloin. 

BARRACK-HACK, subs, (familiar). 
i. In an inoffensive sense 
applied to young women who 
attend garrison balls year after 
year. So used there is no 
such imputation of lax morals 
as occurs in sense 2. 

2. A soldier's prostitute. 
There are but few classes of 
persons to whom a greater 
number of slang epithets have 
been applied than to the poor 
wretched creatures, who from 
choice, bad-treatment, or as a 
means of subsistence abandon 
themselves to a life of prostitu- 
tion. These names are to be 
found in plenty for all grades of 
semi-public or public women. 
They run the gauntlet 
from the gilded courtezan 
to the veriest drab in the 
last stages of destitution and 
disease, The list of synonyms 

is both long and grim ; the 
names in many cases speaking 
volumes on a subject which 
it would be painful as well as 
needless to pursue farther in 
this place, inasmuch as the 
epithets both in French and 
English, and, it must be added, 
those of other languages as 
well, speak with a brutal 
cynicism to which it would 
be out of place to add a com- 

of accommodating morals; ladies 
of more complaisance than 
virtue ; anonyma ; pretty horse- 
breaker ; artichoke ; columbine ; 
common Jack ; convenient ; cow ; 
crack ; aunt ; ladies of easy- 
virtue ; bangster ; blowen ; gar- 
rison-hack ; bat ; bawdy-basket ; 
bed-fagot ; fireship ; bit o' 
muslin ; laced mutton ; mot ; 
bobtail ; bona roba ; brevet wife ; 
grass widow ; brimstone ; black 
Bess ; brown Bessy ; bulker ; 
bunter ; burick ; buttock ; cab 
moll ; cat ; chauvering donna ; 
chauvering moll ; barber's chair ; 
demi-rep ; tartlet ; trollop; shake; 
poll ; dolly-mop ; gay woman ; 
unfortunate ; dress - lodger ; 
mauks ; quaedam (obsolete) ; 
woman ; bitch ; perfect lady ; 
public ledger ; necessary; warm- 
ing-pan ; nun. 

persilleuse (familiar) ; une vial 
peignce (popular : ' a dirty ill- 
dressed woman ; drab; ordrag- 
gletail ' ) ; une moellonneuse (a 
prostitute who frequents build- 
ers' yards) ; hirondelle de gogitenot 
(military : ' a barrack-hack ' ; in 
French soldiers' slang un goguenot 
is a tin can used for making 
coffee or soup) ; un chausson 
(literally ' a sock ' or ' stocking ' ) ; 
almanack de trente six mille 



adf esses (popular : literally ' a 
directory. Cf., English ' public- 
ledger ' ) ; une gcnisse (popular : 
literally ' a heifer.' Cf., English 
' cow ' ) ; line rciccrocheiise (popu- 
lar : raccrocher, ' to hook ' ) ; line 
vache a lait (popular : literally 
' a milch cow ' ) ; une flew de 
macadam (popular : ' a roadside 
flower ' ; 'a street walker ' ) ; 
une roulante (popular : in old 
French slang tin roulant a 
vehicle. Cf., English 'cab'); 
une camelote (popular : a prosti- 
tute of the lowest class ; a 
draggletail) ; une movue (popu- 
lar : literally ' a cod-fish ' ) ; 
une marcheuse (popular : properly 
' a walker ' ; in theatrical par- 
lance, a female super) ; une 
piqueuse de trains (popular : one 
who prowls about railway sta- 
tions. Piqueuse needlewoman) ; 
un pigeon voyageur (familiar : a 
girl who travels up and down a 
railway seeking clients ; literally 
' a carrier pigeon ' ) ; une pieuvre 
(familiar : a kept woman ; pro- 
perly ' an octopus ' ) ; un carcan 
a crinoline (popular : carcan, ap- 
plied to either sex is an oppro- 
brious epithet ; the phrase also 
signifies ' a gaunt-woman ' ) ; 
un omnibus (popular: i.e., 
' one who may be ridden by 
all ' ) ; tin cul crotte (low : pro- 
perly ' a dirty bottom ' ) ; une 
trychine (popular : an allusion to 
trichina spiralis, the disease-germ 
in bad pork) ; une fenetriere 
(popular : an allusion to the 
custom of this class to watch at 
windows and invite passers-by 
to visit them) ; une tralneuse 
(familiar : a prostitute who plies 
her trade at railway stations) ; 
un trumeau (popular : literally 
' a leg of beef ' ) ; une crevette 
(popular : ' a prawn ' or ' shrimp") ; 
une boulonnaise (a girl who ' walks ' 

the Bois de Boulogne) ; un ma- 
telas ambulant (popular : properly 
' a walking mattress." Cf., Eng- 
lish ' bed-fagot ' ) ; une demoiselle 
dit Pont-Neitf (popular : this kind 
haunt the bridge of the name 
over the Seine) ; un demi-castor 
(popular : a woman of the demi- 
monde); une laqueuse (familiar : a 
prostitute frequenting the lake 
in the Bois de Boulogne) ; une 
pailletee (common : properly 
1 spangled ') ; un pelican (familiar : 
a dressy courtesan) ; une ningle 
(a literary term) ; une maquillce 
(popular : ' one with painted 
face ' ) ; une gueuse (popular : 
gueuse beggarly, wretched) ; 
une fille or femme du trottoir 
(popular : ' a girl ' or ' woman 
of the pavement ') ; une vieille 
garde (familiar : an old worn- 
out prostitute) ; une biche 
(popular : ' a hind ' or ' roe ') ; 
une dehanchee (popular : ' a 
waddler ') ; une demi-mondaine 
(general : a woman of the demi- 
monde; a fashionable prosti- 
tute); une portion (military : liter- 
ally ' a share ' or ' portion ' ; one 
who is shared by many) ; une 
limace (popular : properly ' a 
slug ') ; une terrinicre (the lowest 
sort of prostitute ; terrine = 
earthen pan) ; une terreuse (a 
woman who prowls about 
lonely spots) ; une tenure 
(popular) ; une fille a parties 
(popular) ; une rivette ; une voirie 
(popular : ' a common sewer ') ; 
une boule rouge (familiar : a fre- 
quenter of the Quartier de la 
Boule Rouge, Fanbourg Mont- 
martre) ; une vessie (popular : a 
very low prostitute ; vessie ap- 
plied to either sex is an offen- 
sive epithet) ; une demoiselle de 
bitume (familiar) ; un pont d' 'Avig- 
non (popular) ; une pontonniere 
(popular : a prostitute who plies 

Bar rack -Hack. 



her trade under the arches of 
bridges ; ponton = pontoon, ' a 
bridge of boats ' ; pontonnier 
' a toll gatherer ') ; line polisseuse 
de tuyaux de pipe (literally ' a 
polisher of pipe stems ') ; une 
pompe funebre (familiar : pro- 
perly ' funeral pomp ') ; unc 
polissense de mats de cocagne en 
chambre (popular : an extremely 
degraded variety of prostitute ; 
literally ' a polisher of greasy 
poles in a room ') ; une pitnaise 
(general : ' a bug ' a public 
woman of the lowest grade) ; 
une dessalee (popular : literally ' a 
knowing woman ') ; une mangeuse 
de viande erne (popular : ' a de- 
vourer of raw meat ') ; une cite 
d' amour (literally ' a city of 
love ') ; autel de besoin (popular : 
'an altar of necessity'; Cf., 
English 'necessary') ; une vesu- 
vienne (familiar : literally ' a 
vesuvian,' either in allusion to 
the volcano or the well-known 
brand of matches ; in either 
case the epithet comes very 
close to the old English slang 
'fireship,' an old and diseased 
prostitute) ; pcan, or peau de 
chien (popular : literally ' dog's 
skin ') ; un grenier a coups de sabre 
(a soldiers' term : grenier, a 
granary ; coups de sabre, thrusts 
with a broad sword) ; une rem- 
pardeuse (a woman who fre- 
quents the ramparts) ; une fem- 
me de terrain (a draggletailed 
woman ;femme, woman, terrain, 
ground) ; une saucisse (popular : 
i.e., 'a small sausage'); une 
trainee (familiar) ; une bcfleine 
(popular : ' a whale ') ; une Icsc- 
bombe (popular) ; une fille en breme 
(a registered prostitute ; la breme 
is the card given to such women 
by the police) ; une fille en carte 
(a registered woman : see preced- 
ing) ; une boutonnierc a pantalons 

(familiar: r a" 'kind of semi- 
prostitute ; a sempstress who 
walks the streets at night ; in 
their own words, they ' work 
for their living, but do the 
naughty for their clothes ' ) ; 
une fille de maison or une fille a 
numcro (familiar : these names 
are given to girls in brothels ; 
Cf., English ' dress-lodgers ' ) ; 
une fille de tournure (familiar : 
this also is applied to the 
inmate of a brothel ; literally 
' a girl of figure ' ) ; une poupce 
(popular : ' a doll ') ; une mouqitette 
(popular) ; des ponies (popular : 
the inmates of a brothel are so 
called ; literally ' hens ' ) ; une 
galvaudeuse (popular : galvauder, 
' to scold ' ) ; une planche a 
bo ud in (familiar : literally ' a 
slice of pudding ' ; in English 
harlotry ' to take one's pudding ' 
or ' greens ' is to have sexual 
connection) ; une blanchisseuse en 
chemise (blanchisseuse = laundress ; 
ctre dans la chemise de quelqu'un is 
to be constantly with one) ; un 
lard (literally ' bacon ' or body) ; 
une gadoue (properly ' street 
refuse ' or ' mud ' ) ; un sommier 
de caserne (military : sommier 
means 'hair-mattress,' and 
caserne = ' barracks '; applied to 
girls who prowl about bar- 
racks) ; une grivoise (this term 
is now obsolete, but was for- 
merly applied to a garrison 
town prostitute. It means, 
literally, 'a jolly canteen 
woman'); une paillasse a 
soldats (a barrack-hack ; literally 
' a straw mattress for soldiers ') ; 
un passe-lacet (properly ' a bod- 
kin' i.e., ' something to be 
threaded ' ) ; un chameau (the 
term was originally applied to 
a gaunt, ungainly woman ; it 
now signifies a prostitute also) ; 
un membre de la caravans (a 




euphemism for un chameau, 
q.v.} ; un lolo (popular) ; une 
grue (popular : a kept woman ; 
fnire le pied de grue, ' to dance 
attendance'); tine soupense 
(literally ' one who takes sup- 
per ' ; an allusion to the ' cabinets 
particuliers ' of French restau- 
rants) ; une belle petite (a young 
and pretty prostitute of the 
superior class ; literally ' a 
pretty darling ' ) ; une pcche cl 
quinze sous (a literary term) ; 
une boulevardiere (a superior 
class of prostitute frequenting 
the boulevards) ; un camelia (a 
kept woman ; a reference to the 
heroine of La Dame aux camelias 
by A. Dumas fils) ; une lorette (a 
variety of prostitute named 
after the Quartier Notre Dame 
de Lorette, the Paris Pimlico) ; 
une petite dame (literally ' a little 
lady ' ) ; une impure ( a kept 
woman ; properly ' an unchaste 
one'); une agenouillce (jour- 
nalistic) ; une verticale ; une 
hoyizontale de grande marque (a 
fashionable courtezan) ; une 
cocotte (a generic term ) ; une 
pierreuse (a public woman of 
the lowest grade who plies her 
hideous trade in houses in course 
of building, etc.) ; une chamegue ; 
un bourdon (thieves' : literally 
' a drone ') ; une lipete (popular) ; 
une magneuse (popular : a woman 
who depraves herself with mem- 
bers of her own sex. The name 
is said to be in allusion to a 
religious community who de- 
rived their cognomen from that 
of their founder, Jeanne Canart, 
the daughter of Nicholas Col- 
bert, who was the Seigneur de 
Magneux) ; une vielle lanterne 
(popular : an old prostitute ; 
lanterne = window ') ; une feuille 
(literally ' a leaf ' ; the term is 
one used at the Saumur School 

of Cavalry) ; un blanc (literally 
' blank ' or ' white ' ; the deri- 
vation is somewhat obscure, 
but the term is a very ancient 
one for a public woman. Man- 
geur de blanc is a man who lives 
upon the earnings of prostitutes 
and ruins them. Formerly, the 
expression mettre a blanc was 
used in the sense of ' to ruin ') ; 
une vache (this term in its popu- 
lar signification merely means ' a 
woman of indifferent character ' ; 
if a prostitute is intended, the 
expression is une vache a lait, a 
milch cow) ; un veau (literally 
' a calf ' ; the phrase is applied 
to a young prostitute. Cf., 
' vache a lait') ; line retapeuse 
(popular) ; un wagon (popular : 
a dirty prostitute. Cf., wagon, 
' a railway carriage ' and un 
omnibus) ; une taupe (familiar : 
literally a mole, an animal that 
works in the dark ; also ' a 
cunning fox ') ; une Jeanneton 
(popular : a chambermaid at 
an inn) ; une andre (an old word ; 
see Fourbesque landra) ; une rou- 
lure (popular : a public woman 
of the lowest description. Ro tiler 
signifies ' to roll,' ' to wander,' 
'to stroll,' 'to keep going'); 
une fille de barriere (popular : a 
prostitute plying her trade at 
the barriers or gates of the 
city) ; une dossiers (thieves' : 
literally ' a back ') ; une rouleuse 
(familiar : an abandoned woman ; 
literally the name of a species 
of caterpillar) ; une paillasse a 
troufion (a soldier's woman); 
une paillasse de corps de garde (mili- 
tary : literally ' a guard-room 
mattress') ; une marneuse (popu- 
lar : a variety of low class 
prostitute frequenting the 
river-side ; literally ' clayey ') ; 
une Louis (a bully's mistress ; 
the allusion is to the fancy 



which women in brothels often 
have of powdering and dressing 
the hair in the fashion of the 
times of Louis XV.) ; une 
ouvricre (also a ' bully's ' 
mistress. The term signifies, 
literally, ' a workwoman.' These 
wretched creatures support 
their companions who live and 
batten on what the woman 
earns in the sale of her person) ; 
tine fesse (popular : properly ' a 
breech') ; une marmite (harlotry : 
' a flesh pot') ; un torchon (a low 
class of woman ; torchon = ' a 
dish clout') ; une sauterelle 
(familiar : ' a grass-hopper ') ; 
un prat ; une Jemme de cavoisi 
(thieves' : a well dressed pros- 
titute of the boulevards) ; une 
louille ; une larque ( a regis- 
tered woman ; a corruption of 
largue] ; une menesse (a thieves' 
term) ; une larguepe ; une magmtce 
(see une magneuse] ; une casserole 
(thieves' : literally ' a sauce- 
pan ') ; une goipeuse (thieves' : a 
name given to prostitutes who 
wander about the country) ; 
une ronfle ; une ronfle a grip- 
part ', un ronfleur ( thieves' : 
ronfler is properly ' to snore ') ; 
un grippeur (gripper = ' to nab ' ; 
crib ; clutch) ; une panterne ; 
une bourre de soie (a kept wo- 
man ; bourre = floss + soie = 
silk) ; un asticot (a bully's or 
thief's mistress ; literally ' a 
maggot ' ; it may be stated that 
asticot is also used for both the 
membrum virile, and for vermi- 
celli) ; une panuche (thieves' : 
a term applied to showily 
dressed women who live in 
brothels) ; une calege (thieves' : 
a kept woman ; cale, a kind of 
head-dress) ; uneponante (thieves' : 
a low - class prostitute) ; une 
mome or momeresse (thieves') ; 
une lutainpem (thieves') ; une 

laissee (thieves' and roughs') ; 
une galupe (popular : a street 
walking prostitute) ; une ponife, 
ponife, or poniffle (thieves'). 


sbriso (this term has another 
cant signification, viz., ' to be 
naked ' ; hence, probably, its 
attributive usage for a prosti- 
tute) ; una losena (this, like other 
Fourbesque terms for a woman, 
also means ' a woman of the 
town ' ; indeed in most argots 
there seems to be little, if any 
distinction drawn between 
women of easy virtue, and the 
sex as a whole) ; una guagnastra 
(i.e., one who acts as a sheath ; 
the allusion is obvious. Cf., 
English ' broom ' and ' broom- 
handle ' for the female pudenda 
and the male penis respectively) ; 
una marcona (said to be an 
allusion to a certain incident in 
the history of the Papal 
States) ; una landra (curiously 
enough this term signifying, 
in orthodox Italian, a prostitute 
is, in the Fourbesque, synony- 
mous also with ' woman.' The 
French andre, a woman of 
the town, dates back to 
the sixteenth century) ; una 
brocca (literally a jug, pitcher, 
or stupid person) ; una brocchiera 
(from Italian brocchiere, ' a 
buckler ' or ' shield ') ; una baia 
(i.e., a mistress) ; una farfoia 
(also a nun, in which connection 
compare with English ABBESS) ; 
una chierlera (this term likewise 
is also used in the sense of a 
female devotee. Both the 
English and French slang have 
' nun ' as an equivalent for a 
prostitute) ; una carniera or 
carnifica (cant terms for a 
' sister,' and ' fox ' also) ; una cara 




(literally ' dear.' C/., French 
belle petite, ' little darling. 1 ) 

The Spanish Germania has 
gay a to signify a prostitute. 
This is an exact equivalent of 
the French fille de joie or ' gay 
girl ' ; gaya in Spanish signifies 
' gay." Another name is found 
in gennana, in explanation of 
which it may be briefly ex- 
plained that the Spanish argot 
or Germania took its name from 
a band or brotherhood of thieves 
and robbers ; and it would thus 
appear that gennana, the name 
for a female member of the 
band was also used generically 
for a prostitute ! Marca, or mar- 
quida and marqnisa are also all 
used in the sense of a public 
woman. It may be noted that 
in the Italian marchesata stands 
for a woman when under men- 
struation, the physiological fact 
itself being called marchese ; mer- 
cenario, a street walker, also 
signifies a nun of the religious 
order of La Merced. 

BARRACKING, subs. (Australian). 
Banter ; chaff. Cf., BARRIKIN. 

BARREL-BOARDER, subs. (American). 
A loafer in low drinking- 

BARREL-CAMPAIGN, subs. (American). 
Political contests in which 
bribery and corruption go 
hand-in-hand with canvassing 
and voting. A wealthy candi- 
date for office is said to have 
originated the phrase by remark- 
ing, ' Let the boys know that 
there's a BAR'L o' money ready 
for 'em,' or words to that effect. 
The use of the term in this 
sense became general about 
1876. See BOODLE. 
1884. Boston (Mass.) Journal, i 

Nov., i. We are accustomed to BARREL- 

CAMPAIGNS here. Nobody supposes this 
district to be Democratic, but the Demo- 
crats depend upon carrying it with 

1888. Florida Times Union, Feb. n, 
p. 4. It will be remembered that Mr. 
Flower was the nominal candidate of 
the anti-Cleveland men four years ago, 
and with the aid of his BARREL they 
really did achieve some show of success. 

BARREL-FEVER, subs, (popular). 
An indisposition caused by ex- 
cessive drinking. ' He died of 
BARREL-FEVER '; i.e., 'he killed 
himself through drink.' For syn- 

BARREL-HOUSE, subs. (American). 
A low groggery. 

1888. Missouri Republican, Feb. n. 
The West-Side police are still arresting 
BARREL-HOUSE loafers in the hope of 
catching an expert cracksman among 

BARRELL-S BLUES, subs. phr. (mili- 
tary). A nickname given to the 
Fourth Foot. [From its facings 
and Colonel's name from 1734 
to 1739.] They are also called 
'the Lions,' from the ancient 
badge of the regiment. 

BAR RES, subs, (gaming). Money 
lost at play, but not paid. The 
term is an old one, and has long 
been obsolete. A corrupt form 
of ' barrace," an obsolete plural 
of ' bar.' 

BARRIKIN, subs, (common). Gib- 
berish ; jargon ; a jumble of 
words. For usage, see quota- 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 15. ' The high 
wordr. in a tragedy we call jaw-breakers, 
and say we can't tumble to that BARRI- 
KIN.' Ibid, p. 25. Can't tumble to your 
BARRIKIN [i.e., can't understand you], 
Ibid, p. 27. The rich has all that BARRIKIN 
to themselves. 


Barring Out. 


BARRING OUT, subs.phr. (old). Ex- 
clusion from a place by means 
of locks and bars. More par- 
ticularly applied to a half 
serious but oftentimes jocular 
rebellion of schoolboys against 
the schoolmaster. 

1728. SWIFT, Journal of a Modern 

Not schoolboys at a BARRING-OUT, 
Raised ever such incessant rout. 

1847. TENNYSON, Princess, con- 

Revolts, republics, revolutions, most, 
No graver than a schoolboys' BARRING- 

BARROW-BUNTER, subs. (old). A 
barrow - woman ; a female 

1771. SMOLLETT, Humphry Clinker, 
i., 140. I saw a dirty BARROW-BUNTER 
in the street cleaning her dusty fruit 
with her own spittle. 

BARROW-MAN, subs. (old). I. A 
man who hawks his wares on 
a barrow ; a costermonger. The 
term dates back to the middle 
of the seventeenth century. Un 
marottier is the French equiva- 
lent for one species of the fra- 
ternity, better known in England 
as a DUDSMAN (q.v.). 

2. Also formerly a man 
under sentence of transporta- 

BARROW-TRAM, subs, (familiar). 
An ungainly person ; one awk- 
ward in gait, and coarse and 
rawboned in feature. 

BARTER, stibs. (Winchester Col- 
lege). A half volley. From 
the Warden of that name fa- 
mous for disposing of them. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 133. What a 
noble game cricket must be when one 
loved it so much, notwithstanding the 
previous training ! What genuine ex- 
citement when College and Commoners 

was played ; what frantic shouting when 
Rapid got well hold of a ' BARTER ' . . . 
and sent the ball from ' Spanish Pop- 
lar,' right over Mead's wall by ' Log 

1878. ADAMS, Wykehainica, p. 327. 
Barter was the most popular boy of his 
day with his schoolfellows. Wonderful 
things are told of his scores at cricket at 
which he is supposed to have been the 
hardest hitter of his own times, or of any 
near him. ... He was so renowned 
for the tremendous force with which he 
was wont to swipe the ball, commonly 
known to cricketers as a ' half-volley," 
that it actually changed its name in the 
Wykehamical vocabulary, and for fully 
half a century afterwards and, for all I 
know, to the present day bore the 
name of a BARTER. 

Verb. To hit a ball hard at 

catching; full pitches hit from 
the middle of ' Turf ' towards 
Ball-Court for catching practice 
towards the end of 'Long Meads. ' 

BARTHOLOMEW BABY, subs. (old). 
A gaudily dressed doll, such as 
appears to have been commonly 
sold at Bartholomew Fair. See 
plied to a person gaudily 

1682. Wit and Drollery, p. 343. 
Her petticoat of sattin, 

Her gown of crimson tabby, 
Lac'd up before, and spangl'd ore, 


BARTHOLOMEW-PIG, subs. (old). 
Roasted pigs, says Nares, were 
formerly among the chief 
attractions of Bartholomew 
Fair, West Smithfield, London : 
they were sold piping hot, in 
booths and on stalls, and osten- 
tatiously displayed, to excite 
the appetite of passengers. 
became a common subject of 
allusion : the Puritan railed 
against it. 

Bartholomew -Pig. J 37 


1614. B. JONS., Bai-t. Fair, i., 6. For 
the very calling it a BARTHOLOMEW-PIG, 
and to eat it so, is a spice of idolatry. 

Falstaff, in coaxing ridicule of 
his enormous figure, is play- 
fully called by his favourite, 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, 2 Hen. IV., ii., 4. 
Thou whoreson little tidy BARTHO- 

Dr. Johnson thought that paste- 
pigs were there meant : but the 
substantial, real, hot, roasted 
pigs ; as may be seen throughout 
the above play of old Ben, 
where Ursula, the pig-woman, 
is no inconsiderable personage. 
Gayton also speaks of the pig- 

dressers, who look like the dams, as 
well as the cooks of what they roasted. 
Fcst. N., p. 57. 

The young wife in Jonson's 
play pretends a violent longing 
for pig, that she may be taken 
to the fair ; and it seems that 
her case was far from uncom- 
mon. Davenant speaks of the 

That gaping lies on every stall, 
Till female with great belly call. 

The fair in its later days got to 
be a place of too much mobbing 
and riot for ladies in that con- 
dition. There might also be 
paste-pigs, but, if so, they were 
very inferior objects, and meant 
only for children. Mrs. Ursula 
also tells us the price of her 
pigs ; namely, five shillings, 
five shillings and sixpence, or 
even six shillings ! This was 
surely as dear in James I.'s 
time, as a guinea lately. The 
highest price, of course, was 
to be asked of a longing woman. 
The fair was abolished in 1854, 
having been inaugurated in 
1133. Nares. 

BARTS., subs, (medical students'). 
An abbreviation of 'St. 
Bartholomew Hospital.' 

BASH, verb (popular). To beat; 
thrash ; or crush out of shape. 
Possibly from the Scandinavian 
bask, a slap ; ' box ' also seems 
to have the same derivation. 
Chiefly appearing in the northern 
dialects, BASH is regarded nowa- 
days in the light of a vulgar 
colloquialism. Thieves use it 
synonymously with ' to flog.' 
See BASHING. In older writers 
the word appears as PASH, the 
1 p ' in this case being simply a 
harder form than ' b.' An altern- 
ative onomatopoetic derivation 
has, however, been suggested, 
the ' b ' of such words as ' beat ' 
and ' bang ' being transferred to 
the terminal letters of ' dash," 
' gash,' ' smash,' etc. 

1592. NASHE, Strange Newes, in 
wks. II., 272. A leane arme put out of 
the bed shall grind and PASH euerie 
cn*m of thy booke into pin-dust. 

1622. MASSINGER, Virgin Martyr, II., 
ii. Jove's artillery shot down at once, to 
PASH your gods in pieces. 

1882. Daily Telegraph, Dec. 9, p. 2, 
col. 6. A man . . . told witness that he 
would earn a sovereign if he cared to 
give a certain woman the complainant 
a couple of black eyes. . . . His in- 
structions were to follow the man he met 
in the public-house in Bear Street, and 
to BASH the woman he would point out 
to him in Portland Street. 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice Versa, ch. 
xii. ' If you have got BASHED about 
pretty well since you came back, it's 
been all your own fault, and you know it.' 

1883. Standard, March 2, p. 6, col. 7. 
Mr. Hannay reminded her that when the 
summons was applied for, the boy's 
father had said that the boy was BASHED 
on the floor, and received a black eye 
and a bruised head. 

Amongst synonyms may be 
mentioned the English verb 
' bang,' and the French bcclier, 




which signifies properly to dig 
or break up ground. See TAN. 

BASHER, subs, (pugilistic). A 
prize-fighter. For synonyms, 

1882. Daily Telegraph, Dec. 16, 
p. 2, col. 6. According to the statement 
of the prosecuting solicitor, this was the 
man who undertook to point out to 
Leech, the professed BASHER, the 
woman whom he was to assault in 
Portland Street. 

BASHI-BAZOUK, subs, (popular). A 
ruffian ; and used loosely as a 
more or less mild term of op- 
probrium ; also applied to any- 
thing bizarre in character or 
composition. The expression 
came into vogue during the 
period when the Bulgarian 
atrocities were electrifying the 
world by their barbarous cruelty . 
The Bashi-bazouks are pro- 
perly irregular Turkish soldiery. 
They are collected hastily in 
times of emergency; and are, 
consequently, somewhat im- 
patient of discipline, assuming 
that such a commodity in its 
Western sense is known at all 
to the Tartar-descended Turk 
' the unspeakable Turk ' as he 
was fitly called during the 
period above alluded to. So 
infamous have these levies be- 
come at times, that more than 
once they have been disbanded 
in deference to pressure brought 
to bear upon the Turkish autho- 
rities by the Western powers. 

BASHING, subs, (prison). A flog- 
ging ; a taste of the cat-o'-nine- 
tails. Prisoners condemned to 
this punishment at the com- 
mencement of their term are said 
by their companions to receive 
a BASHING IN ; if they also 
undergo a flogging just previous 

to their release, it is called a 


1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 157. There were the evi- 
dences of former floggings, or BASHINGS, 
as the prisoners call them. 

BASILS, subs, (old cant). Fetters 
on one leg only. 

BASIN, subs. (American). A 
SCHOONER (q.v.). 


BASKETED, ppl. adj. (old). From 
this cockpit expression used of 
persons unable or unwilling to 
pay their losses, and who in con- 
sequence were relegated for the 
rest of the day to a basket hung 
over the cockpit, is derived the 
figurative usage in the sense of 
1 to be left out in the cold ' ; 
not understood ; non-plussed ; 
' floored.' 

b. 1788, d. 1841. HOOK, Gerv. Skinner, 
ch. iii. Skinner was quite enchanted with 
the brilliancy of his guests, although 
now and then a little puzzled at tKeir 
allusions ; there jokes were chiefly local 
or professional, and very frequently my 
excellent friend Gervase was, to use a 
modern phrase of general acceptation, 


1818. P. EGAN, Boxiana, vol. I., p. 
79. The fight was soon over after this 
circumstance, and the sweaters and 
trainers were completely in the BASKET ! 

1866. E. YATES, Land at Last. . . . 
And find you in his den, lighting it up 
like like like I'm regularlyBASKETED, 
by jove ! 


TO THE BASKET, phr. (familiar). 
To be imprisoned ; to be re- 
duced to poverty. A basket is 
here the symbol of daily provi- 
sion, or alms. Formerly prison- 
ers were dependent on charity 
for daily sustenance, and it was 
customary for them to let down 

Basket-Making. T 39 


a basket by a string through 
the gaol windows, soliciting the 
alms of passers-by. See also 

Dowry, v., i. Pontalicr [to Liladam, 
who is in custody for debt] . 
Arrested ! this is one of those whose 

And abject flattery help'd to dig his 

grave ; 

He is not worth your pity, nor my anger ; 
Go TO THE BASKET, and repent. 

1700. Gentleman Instructed [1732], 
p. 6. God be praised ! I am not BROUGHT 
TO THE BASKET, though I had rather live 
on charity than rapine. [D.] 


phr. (common) . To be rejected ; 
abandoned; unchosen. Cf., 
second quotation. 

1840. BARHAM, I. L. (House Warn- 
Whatever he wants, he has only to 

ask it, 
And all other suitors are LEFT IN THE 


1874. Bell's Life, 26 Dec. The pick 
of the BASKET, a compact young grey- 

BASKET MAKING, subs. (old). 
When enceinte a woman was 
formerly said ' to have a kid in 
the BASKET.' [Cf., BAY-WIN- 
to signify the act of copula- 

BASS, subs, (popular). A familiar 
abbreviation for Bass' ale, 
brewed at Burton-on-Trent. 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY ( ' Cuthbert 
Bede ' ), Adventures of Verdant Green, p. 
23. The young gentleman exhibited 
great capacity for the beer of BASS, and 
the porter of Guiness. 

1863. OUDIA, Held in Bondage, I., 
p. 65. Those idle lads in the Temple, 
who smoke cavendish and drink BASS. 
Ibid, p. 126. Discussing BASS and a cold 

1868. Miss BRADDON, Only a Clod, 
I., p. 138. A lot of fellows drinking no 
end of BASS. 

18(?). ANNIE THOMAS, A Passion in 
Tatters, I., p. no. BASS that was not 
worthy of its name. 

BASTE, verb (colloquial). To 
thrash ; to beat soundly. This 
verb is given a place here for 
the purpose of comparison, 
as it is somewhat uncertain 
whether it can with propriety 
be classed as slang. Of un- 
certain origin, but dating from 
the sixteenth century ; TO BASTE, 
properly ' to sew together 
loosely,' or 'to apply fat or 
gravy to a joint,' is, in its 
figurative usage, of more than 
passing interest when com- 
pared with ANOINT (q.v.), and 
other words employed in the 
same figurative sense. It is 
curious indeed to note the 
many synonymous analogues 
for a good beating or thrashing, 
all of which pertain more or 
less to slang. R. W. Hack- 
wood [AT. and Q., 7 S., vii., 153] 
mentions several, amongst 
others COLTING (q.v.), used by 
Marry at in Midshipman Easy. 
As bearing upon the general 
idea involved in this class of 
words, the quotation may be 
placed side by side with another 
from the King's Own by the 
same writer. 

1830. MARRY AT, King's Own, ch. vii. 
' He always carried in his pocket a COLT 
(i.e., a foot and a half of rope, knotted at 
one end and whipped at the other), for 
the benefit of the youngsters, to whom 
he was a most inordinate tyrant.' 

1836. MARRYAT, Midshipman Easy, 
ch. xii. ' Then he COLTED me for half- 
an-hour, and that's all.' 

uncertain derivation. Com- 
paring it, however, with analo- 
gous words, may we not take 
it, continues the writer referred 
to, as very closely associated 




with, if not actually belonging 
to, the series of synonyms for 
the operations -which derive 
their origin from the shoe- 
makers, curriers, and allied 
trades, as we find it in 'a 
leathering,' 'a strapping,' 'a 
tanning,' ' a welting,' etc ? In- 
deed, it is worth noting in this 
connection, from the number 
of epithets applied to the opera- 
tion, what a deal of chastising 
has apparently been required 
in most trades and occupations, 
for nearly all except, perhaps, 
the carpenter's, where sticks 
are plentiful appear to be 
represented, and even in the 
domestic circle one can have 
a choice of ' a towelling,' ' a 
basting, 1 'a clouting," 'a rub- 
bing down,' 'a dressing,' 'a 
trimming,' or 'a wiping' when 
occasion requires. 

1533. BELLENDEN, Livy, III. (1822), 
223. He departit weil BASIT and de- 
fuleyeit of his clothing. 

1599. GREENE, George - a - Greene, 
in wks. (Grosart) XIV., 174. He BASTE 
you both so well, you were neuer better 
BASTED in your liues. 

1605. Tryall of Chevalry, III., i., in 
Bullen's Old Plays, iii., 305. But, had I 
knowne as much, I would have BASTED 
him till his bones had rattled in his skin. 

1611. BEAUMONT, Knight of Burning 
Pestle, II., iv. 
Look on my shoulders, they are black 

and blue ; 
Whilst to and fro fair Luce and I were 


He came and BASTED me with a hedge- 

1660. PEPYS, Diary, July 22. One 
man was BASTED by the keeper, for 
carrying some people over on his back, 
through the water. 

1754. MARTIN, Eng. Diet., 2 ed. 
To BASTE or BAST . . . to beat, or bang 

1874. MRS. H. WOOD, Johnny Litd- 
low, i S., xix., p. 328. ' Hold your row, 
Davvy,' he roared out, wrathfully : 'you'd 
not like me to come back and give you 

Among some ENGLISH SYNO- 
NYMS may also be mentioned : 
to give a hiding ; to give a wal- 
loping ; to dust one's jacket ; to 
quilt ; to tan ; to set about ; to 
walk into; to manhandle; to give 
one Jesse; to give one gas; to 
dowse ; to pay. 

For synonyms generally, see 

BASTER, subs. (American thieves'). 
A New York cant term for a 
house thief. 

BASTI LE, subs, (vagrants') . A work- 
house. For synonyms, see BIG 
HOUSE. Probably from the 
Bastile, a famous prison ; lock- 
ups for a long time being gene- 
rically named Bastiles. Now 
corrupted into STEEL. 

1883. CUTHBERT BEDE, in Graphic, 
June 2, p. 558, col. 2. Mister Corbyn 
had always called the workhouse by the 
opprobrious epithet of THE BASTEEL. 

(Thieves'.) A prison. See 
CAGE. BASTILE in this sense 
is mentioned by Captain Grose 


BAT, subs, (old slang). i. A pros- 
titute who plies her trade by 
night ; an allusion to the noc- 
turnal habits of the flying 
mammal indeed, another old 
term for a woman of the town 
was literally a FLY-BY-NIGHT. 
The equivalent French term, 
hirondelle de nuit, i.e., 'a night 
swallow,' is more poetic. For 
full lists of synonyms, see BAR- 

2. (American.) A spree; 
frolic ; and sometimes a drunk- 
en bout. A contracted form of 
' batter.' 

1889. Bird o' Freedom, Aug. 7, p. r. 
Mr. Potc : ' I see in the evening paper 



Bates' Farm. 

that a woman has been bitten by a bat, 
and afterwards died of lockjaw.' Mrs. P. 
(tartily): ' If she had been bitten by the 
kind of BAT you went on when I was 
away last Saturday week, she would 
probably have died at delirium trcmens.' 

3. (athletic.) Pace ; speed 
(in walking, rowing, etc.). 
Partly also dialectical, especi- 
ally Scotch, Craven, and Lin- 

1887. Daily News, 18 August, p. 6, 
col. 3. Here they come, a mixed flock 
of birds full BAT overhead. 

To BAT ONE'S EYES, phr. 
(American). i. A South-west- 
ern term which is explained 
by quotation. 

1846. Overland Monthly, p. 79. The 
ox whip has both parts as long as they 
can be managed. I have seen a poor 
fellow from Ohio, totally unused to this 
enormous affair, swing it round his head 
in many an awkward twist, while the 
Texans stood by and laughed to see 
him knock off his hat and BAT HIS EYES 
at every twitch, to avoid cutting them 

Cf., Italian batter d'occhio, 
twinkling of an eye. 

2. (American gaming.) To 
look on but not to play. Cf., BET. 

phr. (popular). On one's own 
account ; by one's own exer- 
tions. A figurative usage of a 
cricketing term ; ' OFF ONE'S 
OWN BAT,' is said of a score 
made by a player individually. 

1845. SYDNEY SMITH, Fragm. Irish 
Ch., wks. II., 340, i. He had no re- 
venues but what he got OFF HIS OWN 

BAT. [M.] 

1855. LORD LONSDALE, in Croker 
Papers (1884), vol. III., p. 325. Derby 
. . . would not make a Ministry 
FROM his own friends or HIS OWN BAT. 

1880. HAWLEY SMART, Social Sin- 
ners, ch. xxiii. ' You have a weakness 
for the great world ? Good. Score OFF 
YOUR OWN BAT, and it is the great world 
comes to you.' 

1884. Sat. Revieiv, March 8, p. 308, 
col, 2, He has in the most workmanlike 

manner, and OFF HIS OWN BAT, lost for 
the Government an important seat by a 
crushing majority. 


phr. (popular). This also is 
derived from a cricketing ex- 
pression. In the game it means 
to be not out, i.e., the last man 
in. Figuratively, therefore, TO 
persevere and carry through 
an undertaking ; to outlast all 
other opponents ; and thus to 
secure the result aimed at. 

1874. M. COLLINS, Frances, ch. 
xxviii. The General defended his 
stumps as he would have defended a 
fortress, and CARRIED HIS BAT OUT with 
a score of a hundred and seven. 

BATCHELOR'S SON, subs. (old). A 

(thieves'). Coldbath Fields 
prison. [From a warder of that 
name + a certain appropriate- 
ness in the initials, C.B.F., the 
prison initials, and used as a 
When, formerly, the convicts 
were put to the treadmill 
in this prison, they were said 
to be ' feeding the chickens on 
gate was albO called AKERMAN'S 
HOTEL, from a former governor, 
and a similar reason has caused 
the Melbourne gaol to be nick- 
named Castilan's Hotel by Aus- 
tralian thieves. 

[Circa 1850, but date uncertain.] 
Good evening pals, how do you do, 

I thought I'd give a call, 
And introduce myself to you, 

For I'm glad to see you all. 
I'm up to every little fake, 

But in me there's no harm, 
For it was this blooming morning 

That I left OLD BATHS' FARM, 





Then, here's success my knowing kids, 

I'm filled with ev'ry charm, 
I feel so gay this blessed day, 

I've left OLD BATES' FARM. 
Now, every morning when you rise, 

You get a starving meal, 
And if you don't eat all they send 

You have to work the wheel. 
Then so merrily we go, 

To chapel to have prayers, 
And for a little pastime work 

The everlasting stairs. 

The last time that I went to see 

OLD BATES, he shook my hand, 
And said, ' I'm glad to see you, 

You're a chap I understand.' 
He said, ' You're here for nothing now ? ' 

I said ' Yes,' like the rest, 
It was only for knocking a bobby down, 

And jumping on his chest. 

So now I've got my liberty, 

And once again I'm free, 
I mean to 'crack a crib' to-night. 

But pals don't ' crack on me.' 
So if I should touch lucre, 

For a time I will keep calm, 
If I don't see you here some night, 

I shall at BATES' FARM. 


BATH. GOTO BATH ! phr. (fami- 
liar). This popular saying ap- 
pears to have two distinct read- 
ings, both of which, however, 
are traceable to the same source. 

i. Go TO BATH ! i.e., an in- 
junction to desist ; to be gone ; 
get out of my sight, or hearing, 
for you are mad or cracked 
a forcible expression of incredu- 
lity, sometimes intensified by 


The saying is applied to those 
who either relate crack-brained 
stories, or propose undertakings 
that raise a doubt as to 
sanity. The allusion is to the 
fact that, in former days, per- 
sons who showed symptoms of 
insanity were sent to BATH to 
drink the medicinal waters ; the 
process of shaving the head 
being previously resorted to. 

1840. BARHAM, I. L. (Grey Dolphin). 
' Go TO BATH ! ' said the baron. A 
defiance so contemptuous roused the ire 
of the adverse commanders. 

1885. Frank Leslie's Illustrated 
Newspaper, Oct. 16, p. 362. You tell a 
disagreeable neighbour to GO TO BATH 
in the sense in which a Roman would 
have said abi in malam rent. 

2. Hence, to become a beg- 
gar. Bath, especially in the 
latter part of the last century, 
and at the beginning of 
the present one, enjoyed a 
reputation for its fashion and 
baths : it was also, naturally 
enough, for this very reason, the 
resort of countless numbers of 
beggars. To GO TO BATH 
signified, therefore, amongst 
vagrants, to proceed to what 
was in reality one of the first 
centres of beggardom ; presum- 
ably to solicit alms. Hence 
also an additional clue to the 
process of transition into sense i. 
What more natural than to 
bid an importunate applicant to 
betake himself to Bath to join 
his fellows ? Fuller in his 
Worthies has a passage which 
throws some additional light 
upon the question. 

1662. FULLER, History of the Wor- 
thies of England. Beggars of Bath. 
Many in that place ; some natives there, 
others repairing thither from all parts 
of the land ; the poor for alms, the 
pained for ease. Whither should flock 
fowl in a hard frost, but to the barn- 
door ? Here, all the two seasons, being 
the general confluence of gentry. Indeed 
laws are daily made to restrain beggars, 
and daily broken by the connivance of 
those who make them ; it being impos- 
sible when the hungry belly barks, and 
bowels sound, to keep the tongue silent. 
And although oil of whip be the proper 
plaister for the cramp of laziness, yet 
some pity is due to impotent persons. 
In a word, seeing there is the Lazar's 
bath in this city, I doubt not but many 
a good Lazarus, the true object of 
charity, may beg therein. 

Long previous to 1662, how- 

Bathing Machines. X 43 


ever, stringent 
were in force. 

vagrant laws 

Office of the Justices of the Peace, p. 334. 
Such two Justices may .... License 
diseased persons (living of almes) to 
trauell to Bathe, or to Buckstone [Bux- 
ton], for remedie of their griefe. 

A name given to the old 
10 ton brigs. RUSSELL'S 
Sailor's Language. 

BAT-MUGGER, subs. (Winchester 
College). A wooden instru- 
ment used for rubbing oil into 
cricket bats. 

BATS, subs, (thieves'). A pair of 
bad or old boots. Elworthy in 
West Somerset Words gives this 
as a heavy laced boot with hob- 

BATS DOWN ? (Winchester and 
general). ' How MANY BATS 
DOWN ? ' i.e., how many wickets 
have fallen ? 

BATTELS, subs. (University). The 
weekly bills of students at Ox- 
ford. The derivation of the 
term has been the subject of 
much discussion, and is very 
uncertain. Murray says much 
depends on the original sense at 
Oxford : if this was ' food, pro- 
visions,' it is natural to connect 
it with 'battle,' to feed, or receive 
nourishment. See quotation. 

1886-7. DICKENS, Dictionary of Ox- 
ford and Cambridge, p. 16. BATTELS is 
properly a designation of the food ob- 
tained from the College Buttery. An 
account of this, and of the account due 
to the Kitchen, is sent in to every under- 
graduate weekly, hence these bills also 
are known as BATTELS, and the name, 
further, is extended to the total amount 
of the term's expenses furnished by the 
College. In some Colleges it is made 
essential to the keeping of an under- 

graduates' term that he should BATTEL, 
i.e., obtain food in College on a certain 
number of days each week. 

To quote Dr. Murray again, 
however, it appears that the 
word has apparently undergone 
progressive extensions of appli- 
cation, owing partly to changes 
in the internal economy of the 
colleges. Some Oxford men of 
a previous generation state that 
it was understood by them to ap- 
ply to the buttery accounts alone, 
or even to the provisions ordered 
from the buttery, as distinct 
from the ' commons ' supplied 
from the kitchen : but this latter 
use is disavowed by others . . . 
but whether the BATTELS were 
originally the provisions them- 
selves, or the sums due on ac- 
count of them, must at present 
be left undecided. 

1853. CUTHBERT BEDE, Verdant 
Green, pt. II., ch. vii. The Michaelmas 
term was drawing to its close. Buttery 
and kitchen books were adding up their 
sums total ; bursars were preparing for 


(Eton.) See quotation. 

1798. H. TOOKE, Purity, 390. BAT- 
TEL, a term used at Eton for the small 
portion of food which, in addition to 
the College allowance, the collegers 
receive from their dames. 

BATTER, subs. ( common ). 
Wear and tear; eg., ' the BAT- 
TER is more than any human 
being can stand for long. [From 
one of the ordinary meanings of 
TO BATTER, to wear or impair 
by beating or long service, as a 

BATTERED jade.] 

PpL adj. Given up to de- 
bauchery ; this sense follows 


to walk the streets for purposes 
of prostitution ; but cf., BAT. 

Battle of the Nile. J 44 


BATTLE OF THE NILE, subs. phr. 
(rhyming slang). A ' tile ' = a 
hat. For synonyms, see CADY. 

BATTLE ROYAL, subs, (colloquial). 
A vehement quarrel. 

1698. HOWARD, All Mistaken, Act i. 

ist Nurse. Your husband is the 
noted'st cuckold in all our street. 

2nd Nurse. You lie, you jade ; 
yours is a greater. 

Phil. Hist now for a BATTLE- 

18(?). THACKERAY, Shabby Genteel 
Story, ch. vi. A BATTLE-ROYAL speedily 
took place between the two worthy 

1865. Sketches from Cambridge, p. 
137. Our brethren there [in Oxford] 
seem to be always indulging in BATTLES- 

BATTLINGS > subs, (public schools'). 
A weekly allowance of money. 
At Winchester it is is., while 
at Repton it is only 6d. 

1864. Household Words, p. 188. The 
business of the latter was to call us of 
a morning to distribute amongst us our 
BATTLINGS, or pocket-money. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 184. The expense 
was defrayed by the boys subscribing 
the last three BATTLINGS (i.e., the weekly 
shilling allowed each boy). This was 
rather an illusory coin, for we seldom 
actually fingered it, as some one of the 
College servants generally had a kind 
of prescriptive right to a benefit ; and 
whenever Saturday arrived, Praefect of 
Hall's valet was sure to come round to 
ask the boys if they would give their 
BATTLING to Rat Williams, or Dungy, 
or Purver, or Long John, or some other 
equally deserving individual. 

1883. TROLLOPE, Autobiogr. (1883), 
I., 13. Every boy had a shilling a week 
pocket-money, which we called BATTELS. 
[This is probably a misprint the 
Winchester term, as that used at other 
schools, is BATTLING. It was advanced 
out of the pocket of the second master.] 

BATTNER, subs. (old). An ox ; 
beef being apt to batten or 
fatten those that eat it. ' The 
cove has hushed the BATTNER,' 

i.e., has killed the ox. Grose 

BATTY, subs, (general). Wages; 
perquisites. Derived from 
BATTA, an extra pay given to 
soldiers while serving in India. 
H often. Col. Yule says in 
Indian banking, agio or differ- 
ence in exchange ; discount on 
coins not current ; or of short 

1824. T. HOOK, Sayings and Doings, 
i S., Merton, ch. viii. Whether he 
could draw full BATTA in peace-time. 

1868. BREWER, Phrase and Fable, 
5 S. ' Batta.' BATTA or BATTY (Hin- 
dustanee). Perquisites ; wages. Properly, 
an allowance to East Indian troops in 
the field. 

BAULK, subs. (Winchester College). 
A false report (especially 
that a master is at hand), which 
is SPORTED (q.v.), not spread. 

(Popular.) A false shot ; a 

BAUM, verb (American Univ.). 
To fawn ; to natter ; to curry 
favour. HALL'S College Words 
and Phrases. 

BAWBELS or BAWBLES, subs. (old). 
A man's testicles. Originally, 
a provincialism. For synonyms, 
see CODS. 

BAWCOCK, subs. (old). A burlesque 
term of endearment. [From 
either French beau, fine, + 
French coq, cock = a fine or 
good ' feller '; or from English 
BOY + COCK = a young dandy 
or strut.] 

1599. SHAKSPEARE, Henry V., iii., 
2, 25. Pist. Be merciful, great duke, 
to men of mould ! . . . Good BAWCOCK 
'bate thy rage ! 

1861. H. AINSWORTH, Constable of the 
Tower, p. 131. One of the gamesome 
little BAWCOCK'S jests. 


M5 Bayard of Ten Toes. 

BAWD, subs. (old). A female pro- 
curess. A CARTED BAWD 
meant one who had been placed 
in a cart and led through the 
town to make her person 
known to the inhabitants. C/., 
ABBESS. See also CART and 
BARRACK-HACK for synonyms 

BAWDE PHISICKE. See quotation. 

1560-1. AWHELEY, The XXV. orders 
of Knaucs, (ed. 1869), p. 14. BAWDE 
PHISICKE, is he that is a Cocke, when 
his Maysters meate is euyll dressed, and 
he challenging him therefore, he wyl say 
he wyll eate the rawest morsel thereof 
him selfe. This is a sausye knaue, that 
wyl contrary his Mayster alway. 

BAWDY BANQUET, subs. (old). 
Whoremongering. [From BAW- 
DY, lewd, + BANQUET.] 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1869), p. 63. 
1 Where haue I bene ? ' quoth he, and 
began to smyle. ' Now, by the mas, thou 
hast bene at some BAUDY BANQUET.' 

BAWDY BANQUET, subs. (old). A 
running after loose women ; 

BAWDY BASKET, subs, (old cant). 
i. The twenty-third rank of 
canters (see Harman), who 
carried pins, tape, ballads, and 
obscene books to sell, but lived 
mostly by stealing, 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (ed. 1869), 
p. 65. These BAWDY BASKETS be also 
wemen, and go with baskets and 
Capeases on their armes, where in they 
haue laces, pynnes, nedles, white ynkell, 
and round sylke gyrdles of al coulours. 
These wyl bye cowneyskiws and steale 
line;; clothes of on hedges. And for 
their trifles they will procure of mayden 
seruaunts, whew [leaf 20, back] their 
mystres or dame is oute of the waye, 
either some good peece of beefe, baken, 
or cheese, that shalbe worth xij pens, 
for ii pens of their toyes. And as they 
walke by the waye, they often gaine some 
money wyth their instrument, by such 
as they sodaynely mete withall. The 

vpright men haue good acquayntance 
with these, and will helpe and relieue 
them when they want. Thus they trade 
their lyues in lewed lothsome lechery. 
Amongest them all is but one honest 
woman, and she is of good yeares; her 
name is lone Messenger. I haue had 
good proofe of her, as I haue learned by 
the true report of diuers. 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. 
I., ch. v., p. 39 (1874). [In list of orders 
of thieves], BAWDY-BASKETS. 

2. A prostitute ; an alterna- 
tive and earlier form of BAWD 

1589. PUTTENHAM, Art of Eng. 
Poesie, bk. III., ch. xix. 
Many a faire lasse in London towne, 
Many a BAWDIE BASKET borne vp and 

downe : 

Many a broker in a thridbare gowne, 
Many a bankrowte scarce worth a 

crowne. In London. 

1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, 
in wks. (Grosart) III., 86. The 
victualers to the carnpe are women, and 
to those some are Glymerers, some 
BAWDY-BASKETS, some Aittem-Morts. 

(old). A very small one, short 
measure, being among the many 
means used by the keepers of 
those houses, to gain what they 
call an honest livelihood ; in- 
deed, this is one of the least re- 
prehensible, the less they give a 
man of their infernal beverages 
for his money, the kinder they 
behave to him. Grose. 

BAYARD OF TEN TOES, phr. (old). 
To go on foot. Bayard was 
a horse famous in old romances. 

1606. BRETON, Good and Radde, p. 
14. Breton says of the ' honest poore 
man,' his trauell is the walke of the 
woful, and his horse BAYARD OF TEN 


1662. FULLER, Worthies, Somerset 

(ii., 291). At last he [Coryat] undertook 

to travail into the East Indies by land, 



Bay Window. 



BAY WINDOW, subs, (common). A 
slang phrase applied to women 
when pregnant, or men who 
have ' corporations.' The allu- 
sion is obvious. 

. c., subs, (common). A name 
jokingly applied to a person 
who brings a trumpery action 
for libel against another. Dr. 
Brewer in Phrase and Fable thus, 
in effect, explains the allusion : 
A young woman complained 
to Mr. Ingham [the magistrate 
at Bow Street Police Court and 
now (1889) Sir James Ingham] 
of having been abused by a 
woman who called her a B. c. 
On being asked the meaning, 
the young woman said c meant 

'cat' but the B , well, it 

was too shocking to utter, and 
the magistrate allowed her to 
whisper the word in his ear. 
It was a well-known word of 
sanguinary sound ; but, though 
B.C. was hardly a pretty epithet, 
yet his worship could hardly 
grant a summons for libel 
against the person of whom 
complaint was made for using it. 

BEACH-CADGER, subs. (old). A 
beggar whose ' pitch ' is at 
watering-places, and sea-ports. 
[From BEACH, the sea-shore + 
CADGER, a beggar.] 

BEACH-COMBER, subs, (nautical). 
i. One who hangs about the 
sea-shore on the look-out for 
jobs. It was chiefly applied to 
runaway seamen, deserters 
from whalers, who lived along 
the beach in South America, 
the South Sea Islands, etc. It 
is a term of contempt. CLARK 
RUSSELL'S Sailors' Language. 

1847. Black-wood's Magazine, LXI., 
757. A daring Yankee BEECH-COMBER. 


1880. Atheneeum, 18 Dec., p. 809, 
col. 2. The white scamps who, as 
BEECH-COMBERS, have polluted these 
Edens and debauched their inhabitants. 

1885. A. LANG, in Longm.Mag., VI., 
417, note. BEACH-COMBER is the local 
term for the European adventurers and 
long-shore loafers who infest the Pacific 
Archipelagoes. There is a well-known 
tale of an English castaway on one of 
the isles, who was worshipped as a deity 
by the ignorant people. At length he 
made his escape, by swimming, and was 
taken aboard a British vessel, whose 
captain accosted him roughly. The 
mariner turned aside and dashed away 
a tear : ' I've been a god for months and 
you call me a (something alliterative) 
BEACH-COMBER!" he exclaimed, and 
refused to be comforted. 

2. A river boatman. 

3 A thief who prowls about 
the sea-shore ; a plunderer of 
wrecks ; a picker-up of waifs 
and strays. This is derived 
from sense 4. 

4. (American.) A long wave 
rolling in from the ocean. 
Hence applied to those whose 
occupation it is to pick up, as 
pirates or wreckers, whatever 
these waves wash in to them. 

BEACH-TRAM PER, subs, (nautical). 
A coastguardsman. [ From 
BEACH, the shore of the sea-f- 
TRAMP, to walk along + ER.] 

phr. (American). To attack an 
opponent by speech or other- 
wise. The phrase has passed 
into colloquial use from back- 
woods parlance, where it signi- 
fies the process of taking aim 
and firing. The front sight of a 
gun is in appearance like a 

1841. CATLIX, North American Indians 
(1844), I., x., 77. I made several attempts 
to get near enough TO DRAW A BEAD upon 
one of them, 



1870. BRET HARTE, Society on the 
Stanislaus (in Poems and Prose). It is not 
a proper plan, to lay for that same mem- 
ber for TO PUT A BEAD ON HIM. 

188(?) S. CLEMENS (' Mark Twain '), 
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, p. 48. 
liwas pretty close to the Shanty, and I 
thought I heard the old man coming all 
the time ; but I got her hid ; and then I 
out and looked around a bunch of 
willows, and there was the old man 
down the path apiece just DRAWING A 
BEAD on a bird with his gun. 

1889. Albany Journal t Aug. 6. H 
Jake's not careful I'll DRAW A BEAD ON 
HIM. Very little more will make me go 
for him tooth and nail. 

To RAISE A BEAD. To bring 
to the point ; to ensure success. 
The figure is taken from 
brandy, rum, or other liquors, 
which will not 'raise a bead,' 
unless of the proper strength. 

1846. N. Y. Tribune, Letter from 
Ohio. The result was, if the convention 
had been then held, the party wouldn't 
have been able TO RAISE A BEAD. [B.] 

BEAGLE, subs. (old). A spy; in- 
former ; man-hunter ; police- 
man ; also a general term of 
contempt. [From BEAGLE, a 
small hound, which tracks by 
scent, formerly used for hunt- 

1599. Myrr. Mag., Jack Cade, xix. , 2. 
That restless BEGLE sought and found 
me out. [M.] 

1607. DEKKER, Westward Hoe, Act 
iii., Sc. 4. Mon. I beseech you, Mis- 
tress Tenterhook, before God, I'll be 
sick, if you will not be merry. Mist. 
Ten. You are a sweet BEAGLE. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BEAGLE (s.) .... also a contemptuous 
name given to a boy or man, as to say, 
you are a special BEAGLE, is the same as, 
you are good for nothing. 

1837. CARLYLE, French Revolution, 
III., vii., v., 377. Attorneys and Law- 
BEAGLES, which hunt ravenous on this 

BEAK, subs, (old cant). i. A police- 
man or guardian of the peace. 
As far as is known, this (as 

' beck ') is the oldest cant term 
for a member of a class of men, 
who, perhaps, above all o hers, 
have been the recipients of 
nicknames and epithets, and 
these, be it noted, not always 
of a complimentary character. 
In Harman's Caveat (1573), har- 
man BECK is explained as ' the 
counstable,' harmans being ' the 
stockes.' The derivation of 
BECK or BEAK is doubtful. 
Especially vague seems that 
which finds its source in the 
Saxon beag, a gold collar worn 
by civic magistrates, and an 
emblem of authority. This 
genesis appears to be based on 
the later and secondary sense 
of BEAK, a magistrate, a mean- 
ing which it still retains. But, 
against this must be placed the 
fact that, as the name for a 
watchman or guardian of the 
peace, BEAK boasts a much 
older usage. Sir John Field- 
ing, half brother of the author 
of Tom Jones, and an active 
Middlesex Justice in the last cen- 
tury, was popularly known as the 
' Blind Beak ' [c. 1750] ; but 
beyond this date no instance of 
this sense has been found. If, 
therefore, BEAK originally signi- 
fied a policeman, it is difficult to 
discover any connection with 
the Saxon beag, inasmuch as 
watchmen are not known to 
have been decorated with gold 
collars. The following quota- 
tions will give other illustra- 
tions, and also show that, 
meaning a policeman, the term 
has not long been obsolete. 

1609. DEKKER, a Gypsy song, in 

Lanthorne and Candlelight, etc. 

The Ruffin cly the nab of the HARMAN 

If we mawnd Pannam, lap or Ruff- 




Or poplars of yarum ; he cuts, bing to the 


Or else he sweares by the lightmans, 
To put our stamps in the Harmans. 
The Ruffian cly the ghost of the HARMAN 


If we heaue a booth we cly the Jerke. 

If we niggle or mill a bousing ken. 

Or nip a bung that has but a win, 

Or dup the giger of a gentry cofes ken : 

To the quier cuffing we bing, 

And then to the quier-Ken to scowre the 

And then to the Trin'de on the chates, 

in the lightmans, 
The Bube and Ruffian cly the HARMAN 

BECK and Harmans. 

[ This is thus ' Englished ' by 

The Diuell take the Constable's head, 
If we beg Bacon, Butter-milke or bread. 
Or Pottage, to the hedge he bids us hie, 
Or sweares (by this light) i'th' stocks we 

shall lie. 

The Deuill haunt the Constable's ghoast, 
If we rob but a booth, we are whip'd at 

a poast. 
If an ale-house we rob or be tane with a 

Or cut a purse that has iust a penny, and 

no more, 
Or come but stealing in at a gentleman's 


To the Justice straight we goe, 
And then to the Jayle to be shakled : And 

To be hang'd on the gallows i'th 1 day 

time : the pox 
And the Deuill take the Constable and 

his stocks. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 6. 

Land. Gentlemen vagabonds; the 
traps are abroad, and half a thousand 
beadles and beaksmen are now about the 

Billy. De BEAK ! oh curse a de BEAK ! 

Jemmy. Gemmen ! gemmen ! (Knock- 
ing on table to command attention.) 

Jack. Silence for the chair ! 

Jemmy. Put out the lights, put out 
the lights, every one shift for himself. 
Here, Bob, carry me up the ladder, good 
luck to you do, Bob. 

1840. THACKERAY, Catherine, ch. x. 
But Mrs. Polly, with a wonderful pre- 
sence of mind, restored peace by ex- 
claiming, ' Hush, hush 1 the BEAKS, the 
BEAKS ! ' Upon which, with one com- 
mon instinct, the whole party made a 
rush for the garden gates, and dis- 
appeared into the fields. Mrs. Briggs 

knew her company: there was some- 
thing in the very name of a constable 
which sent them all a-flying. 

1 Blue ' (traceable to Queen 
Elizabeth 's days when the colour 
of the uniform was the same as 
now) ; ' men in blue ' ; ' Royal 
Regiment of Footguards Blue ' ; 
1 bluebottle ' (used by Shak- 
speare) ; ' blew coate ' (also a 
Shakspearian term, and still in 
use) ; ' Dogberry ' (an allusion 
to Much Ado about Nothing) ; 
'charley' (one of the old 
watchmen); 'bobby 1 ; 'peeler'; 
' copper ' (a thieves' term, from 
' to cop ' to lay hold of) ; 
'crusher' (thieves'); 'slop' (a 
back slang corruption of ' police' 
= esclop, with c not sounded 
and shortened to ' slop') ; 
' scufter ' (a northern term, as 
also is the example next follow- 
ing) ; ' bulky ' (used by Bulwer 
Lytton) ; ' philip ' (from a 
thieves' signal) ; ' cossack ' ; 
' philistine' ; ' frog ' (from 
pouncing upon criminals) ; 
'Johnnie Darby' (a corrup- 
tion of gendarme) ; ' Johnnie ' ; 
' pig ' (a plain clothes man) ; 
' worm ' ; ' nose ' ; ' nark ' ; 
' dee ' (a detective) ; ' tec ' ; the 
C.T.A. (a circus man's term) ; 
' demon ' (Australian thieves') ; 
' reeler ' ; ' raw lobster ' (this 
like ' blue,' etc., would appear 
to be a reference to the colour 
of the uniform). 

rousse (popular and thieves' : 
roux signifies ' red,' and red hair 
has always been held in con- 
tempt as indicative of treachery 
and craft ; hence its application 
by the criminal classes to their 
natural enemies) ; un roussin 
(thieves' : of same derivation as 
foregoing) ; un baton de reglisse 




(popular : ' a stick of liquorice') ; 
tin baladin (properly ' a mounte- 
bank, juggler, or buffoon ') ; 
tine cagne (popular: 'a dog, 1 
i.e., 1 a worthless fellow,' ' a slut '; 
cagne or caigne in Old French 
signified ' dog,' and was derived 
from the Latin cants, whence 
caignot, ' a little dog.' It may 
also be noted that, prior to 
the establishment of the modern 
gendarmerie, the archers of the 
watch were known as chiens- 
courants) ; un cogne (thieves' : 
another form of cagne) ; un balai 
(hawkers' : properly ' a broom, 
brush, or besom ') ; un serin 
(popular: properly 'a canary'; 
serin is also slang for ' a foolish 
fellow,' ' a greenhorn ') ; un 
pousse (thieves' : the guardians 
of public order formerly known 
in Paris as serjents or archers de 
I'ccuelle were called pousse-culs) ; 
une vache (literally a cow '); un 
am*/ (thieves'); unepeste (thieves': 
literally ' a plague ' or ' tor- 
ment ') ; une tranche d la manque ; 
un flaquadard ; un cabestan 
(thieves' : properly ' a hand- 
winch ' ; Michel thinks this is 
derived either from cabe, ' a 
dog'; or from capitan, 'a cap- 
tain.' The latter, be it noted, 
has also the signification of 
1 hector ' or ' braggadocio ') ; un 
raille or railleux (thieves' : a de- 
tective. Michel derives it from 
raillon, a weapon with which the 
police were formerly armed. 
Victor Hugo thought it came 
from the English word ' rascal,' 
but there seems little, if any, 
authority for this) ; un sacre 
(Nicot gives this as ' a bird of 
prey,' but Henri Estienne adds 
that it was used to denote ' one 
who lays hands on everything 
that comes in his way ' ; also ' a 
gourmand ') ; un grive (thieves' : 

'a warder' or 'military patrol'); 
un laune (thieves') ; un flique 
(popular : also a petty police 
magistrate. Thought to be a 
corruption of friquet, another 
opprobrious term for a police 
man) ; tin bee du gaz ; un estaffier 
(familiar : also, among thieves, 
'a cat'); une bourrique 
(thieves' : also ' an informer ' ) ; 
un pousse trottoir (pousse from 
pousser, ' to push ' ; trottoir, a 
footpath) ; un lampion rouge 
(thieves') ; un escargot de trottoir 
(popular : literally ' a snail of 
the footpath ' ) ; un cierge 
(thieves ' : properly 'a wax 
taper ' ) ; un sergo (popular) ; 
un grippe-Jesus (a term used by 
thieves in the north of France, 
and by seafaring men which, 
says Michel, might lead one 
to suppose that gendarmes only 
arrested innocent persons) ; un 
pince sans rire (thieves' : a sly, 
malicious person) ; unpot d tabac 
(popular : ' a tobacco jar ') ; un 
singe de la rousse (singe = mon- 
key, de la rousse, ' of the police 
force ') . 


zaffo (literally ' a bung ' or 
' tipstaff ' ) ; un' foco or un' 
fuoco (literally ' fire ' ). 

mastin (literally ' a mastiff ' or 
' bulldog ' ; ' a clumsy fellow ' ; 
' a clown ' ) ; una harpia (un 
harpeo = ' grapnel ' or ' grap- 
pling-iron ' ) ; una fiera (properly 
' a wild beast '). 

2. (popular.) A magistrate. 
Cf. foregoing, much of which 
has reference to this secondary 
meaning of BEAK. Sometimes 




Beaker -Hunter. 

1837. DICKENS, Oliver Twist, ch. viii. 
' My eyes, how green ! ' exclaimed the 
young gentleman. ' Why a BEAK'S a 

18(?) HOOD, Tale of a Trumpet. 
The pies and jays that utter words, 
And other Dicky gossips of birds, 
Who talk with as much good sense and 

As many BEAKS who belong to the 


1881. Punch, Dec. 3, 258. A PAIR 
Jaunter. 'See that old fellow, Miss 
Diana? That's Doctor Katchett, who 
swears he's going to find a cure for 
lunatics ! Just got into trouble. Been 
trying the effects of extreme terror and 
bodily fatigue on a rabbit, and without 
chloroform, too, the old ruffian ! And 
then he killed it, and dissected its brain. 
Going to be had up before the BEAK for 
it! Bow St., you know!' Miss Diana. 
' Serve him right, horrid man ! Don't 
want to know about such people. But 
talking of rabbits, what a splendid run 
that second Hare gave us to-day ! Thirty 
minutes gallop without a check! Wasn't 
it lovely ! And I was in at the death ! ' 

1889. Pall Mall Gaz., Oct. 12, p. 5, 
col. 2. Taken before some French 
BEAK whom he did not know, and an 
interpreter brought, the 'cotched' cul- 
prit was made to pay 20 f., his friend 
escaping because he was not caught red- 

'queer cuffin ' (old cant). 

penr (thieves' : properly ' a sap- 
per,' i.e., ' one who undermines 1 
[one's chances of wrong doing] ) ; 
un pante en robe (pante in French 
slang is equivalent to ' a man ' 
or ' cove ' ; en robe = ' in a robe ') ; 
un endormi (popular : properly 
' a sleepy-head ') ; un grignon 
(thieves' : probably from gri- 
gner les dents, ' to show one's 
teeth threateningly ' ; or from 
gyognon, 'grumbler,' 'growl- 
er ') ; un gerbier ; un curieux 
(thieves': i.e., 'the curious 
one ' ; from the adj. curieux. 
Michel, however, adds that 
curieux formerly signified 'a cour- 

tier') ; un singe a rabat (thieves' : 
possibly rabat is an abbreviated 
form of rabat-joie, ' a wet blan- 
ket.' The phrase would then 
mean ' a baboon with a wet 
blanket,' ' a damper ' ; or it 
may be derived from singe, a 
monkey + rabat, slang for ' a 
cloak.' Cf., singe de la rousse) ', un 
lustre (thieves' : properly ' re- 
nown ' ; ' distinction ') ; un pant' 
de la magistral imiche (thieves'). 

tigo (literally ' an old one ' ; also 
' a master,' ' a boss'). 

brador (thieves' and popular : 
from sombra, ' shade' ; i.e., one 
who puts in the shade. Poner 
d la sombra is ' to imprison '). 

3. (popular.) -- The nose. 
For synonyms, see CONK. 

1598. FLORIO. Naso adunco, a 
BEAKE-nose. [M.] 

1854. THACKERAY, Newcomcs, I., 296. 
The well-known hooked BEAK of the old 
countess. [M.] 

1865. E. C. CLAYTON, Cruel Fort, I., 
143. A large, fat, greasy woman, with a 
prominent BEAK. 

The Member for Paris, I., p. 80. It was 
not the most agreeable thing in the 
world to be suddenly interrupted in a 
mantel-shelf conversation by a gentle- 
man with a firm BEAK-NOSE and a red 
rosette in his button-hole. 

4. (Eton and Marlborough 
Schools.) A master. 

BEAKER subs, (thieves'). A fowl. 
Sometimes shortened into BEAK. 
The derivation is obviously an 
illusion to the beak or horny 
mandibles of poultry. For- 
merly Called CACKLING-CHEAT 

(q.v.), and by French thieves 
une cstable, or une estaphle. 

BEAKER-HUNTER, subs, (thieves'). 
A poultry yard thief. Also 




1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 
3 ed., p. 445. A poultry stealer. A 


BEAK-GANDER, subs, (common). 
A judge of the Superior Courts. 
[From BEAK (q.v .), a magistrate 
f GANDER, a humorous term 
for an old man.] 

BEAKSMAN, subs. (old). See BEAK 
(sense i), of which it is an 
alternative form. 

ONE'S BEAM ENDS, pliv '. (nauti- 
cal). i. To be in bad circum- 
stances ; to be at one's last 
shift ; hard-up ; a metaphor 
drawn from sea-faring life. A 
ship is said to be on her BEAM 
ENDS when she is so prostrated 
on her side by stress of weather, 
or shifting of cargo, as to sub- 
merge her lee rail. 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
xl. In short, he laughed the idea down 
completely ; and Tom, abandoning it, 


again for some other solution. [H.] 

1851. HENRY MAYHEW, London 
Labour and London Poor, III., 121. When 
a fellow is ON HIS BEAM ENDS, as I was 
then, he must keep his eyes about him, 
and have impudence enough for any- 
thing, or else he may stop and starve. 

2. Also, less figuratively, to 
be thrown to the ground ; to be 
reduced to a sitting or lying 

1830. MARRYAT, King's Own, xxvi. 
Our first lieutenant was ... ON HIS 
BEAM ENDS, with the rheumatiz. 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY ('Cuthbert 
Bede '), Adventures of Verdant Green. 
You get on stunningly, gig-lamps, and 
haven't been ON YOUR BEAM ENDS 
more than once a minute. 

BEAN or BIEN, subs, (popular). 
A sovereign. Formerly a 
guinea. In America five-dollar 

gold pieces are now called BEANS 
See also HALF-BEAN and HAD- 
DOCK OF BEANS. In the old 
French cant, biens meant money 
or property. For synonyms, 
see CANARY. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. BEAN, 
a guinea. HALF-BEAN. 

1834. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, 
bk. III., ch. ix. Zoroaster took long odds 
that the match was off; offering a BEAN 
to half a quid (in other words, a guinea 
to a half guinea). 

1885. D. C. MURRAY, Rainbow Gold, 
bk. V., ch. vi. ' Here's some of the 
BEANS,' he continued figuratively, as he 
drew five sovereigns from the same 
pocket, and surveyed them in his great 
brown palm. 

FULL OF BEANS, phr. (society). 
In good form or condition ; 
as full of health, spirits, or 
capacity as a horse after a good 
feed of beans. Among the 
ancients the word signified 
venery ; possibly, therefore, a 
more esoteric meaning may be 
attached to it than commonly 
supposed. See BEANY. 

1889. Sporting Times, June 29. The 
tennis-ground [was] a pretty place, over- 
looking the harbour, and surrounded by 
trees and female beauty. The game 
began. ' Ich dien,' shouted Jack, as 
FULL OF BEANS as the Prince of Wales' 
plume, and immediately sent a ball 
which went bang through the window of 
an adjoining house. 

To GIVE BEANS, phr. (com- 
mon). To chastise; to give a 
good drubbing. For synonyms, 
see TAN. 

LIKE BEANS, adv. phr. (com- 
mon). In good form, style, 
time, etc. ; with force ; a gene- 
ral expression of approval and 
praise. C/., LIKE BLAZES, 



BEAN. To hold in little esteem ; 
to think lightly of; to be of 
little value. The allusion is to 




the small worth, or value of a 
bean, or ' the black of a bean.' 
A variant is NOT WORTH A 
STRAW (q.v.). Both phrases are 
old, NOT WORTH A BEAN being 
traced back to 1297. 

To BE BEANY, pliv . (common). 
To be in good humour a 
metaphor also drawn from the 

To KNOW BEANS, phr. (Ameri- 
can). To be well informed. 
The phrase is incorporated 
into many expressions in a very 
strange way ; and is an allusion 
to the fondness of New 
Englanders in general, and 
Bostonians in particular, for 
baked beans and pork, com- 
bined with a sly hit at the 
assumption of superior culture 
on which they are supposed to 
insist. To KNOW BEANS, there- 
fore, is to be sharp and shrewd ; 
to be within the charmed 
circle of the ' cultured elect ' 
in short to be fully equipped in 
the ' upper storey." 

1888. Portland Transcript, March 7. 
The pudding was pronounced a success 
by each member of the assembled 
family, including a dainty Boston girl 
who, of course, KNOWS BEANS. 

1888. Chicago Herald. One has to 
KNOW BEANS to be successful in the 
latest Washington novelty for entertain- 
ment at luncheons. 

An alternative derivation 
may, however, be found in the 
English form. 


phy. (common). This is gene- 
rally put in the form of a ques- 
tion, the answer" to which is 
' Five, if peeled, 1 and those who 
fail to get tripped by the 
1 catch ' are said ' TO KNOW HOW 
MANY,' etc. ; in other words to 
be cute ; knowing ; wide awake. 

1830. GALT, Laurie, T. (1849), H., i. 
42. Few men who better knew HOW 


FIVE. [M.] 

1886. Zoological Comparisons, in 
Broadside Ballad. 
Nature and art improves us, the girls 

with smiles are moving us, 
Which very often ruin us there's no 

gammon about that; 
Then just as we begin to know 'HOW 


The ladies call us puppies when we at 
that age arrive ; 

You may perchance become a deer, if in 
favour with some lass, 

If not you're called a donkey, and often- 
times an ass. 

1889. Daily News, 4 Nov., p. 6, col. 
5. Mr. Gladstone and The Saturday 
Review. Sir, My master, who is a good 
Conservative, lends me The Saturday 
Review to improve my mind. ... It 
says that there were eighty-six Parnell- 
ites, and that if Mr. Gladstone, by his 
wickedness, could make them leave off 
voting for the Tories, and vote for him, 
instead of being in a minority of four, he 
would have had a majority of 80. 
Why, Sir, the dunce of the school knows 
that if you take 80 from one side and 
add it on to the other, the difference is 
not 80, but 160. It is as simple as HOW 


some people are losing their wits faster 
than Mr. Gladstone. I am, Sir, yours 
respectfully, A SCHOOLBOY. 

BLUE BLADDER. Nares con- 
fesses his inability to discover 
the origin of this whimsical 
combination of words, but 
points out that it is at least of 
long standing. The subjoined 
quotations would seem to in- 
dicate the meaning as noisy, 
frothy talk ; clap-trap. 

1600. DEKKER, Old Fortnnatits, iii., 
p. 128. 

F. Hark, does't rattle ? 

A BLUE BLADDER, rattle, bladder, rattle. 

1717. MATHEW PRIOR, Alma (cant), 
I., v., 25. 

They say 

That putting all his words together, 


Bean Belly, 



BEAN BELLY, subs. (old). A nick- 
name for a Leicestershire man ; 
from a real or supposed fond- 
ness of the inhabitants of this 
county for beans. 

BEAN-FEAST, subs, (common). An 
annual feast given by em- 
ployers to their work-people. 
The derivation is uncertain, 
and, at present, their is little 
evidence to go upon. Some 
have suggested its origin in 
the prominence of the bean 
goose, or even beans at these 
spreads ; others refer it to the 
French bien, good, i.e., a good 
feast (by-the-bye, tailors call 
all good feeds BEAN-FEASTS) ; 
whilst others favour its deriva- 
tion from the modern English 
bene, a request or solicitation, 
from the custom of collecting 
subscriptions to defray the 
cost. All three suggestions are, 
at the best, unsatisfactory, and 
numerous objections crop up 
at every turn to each of them. 
An annual outing of this kind 
is also called a WAYZGOOSE 

1882. Printing Times, 15 Feb., 26, 2. 
A BEAN-FEAST dinner served up at a 
country inn. [M.] 

1884. Bath. Jour., 26 July, 6, i. The 
annual grant of 20 for their BEAN-FEAST. 


BEAN-FEASTER, subs, (common). 
One who takes part in a BEAN- 
FEAST (q.v.). 

1884. Cornh. Mag., Jan., 621. For 
the delectation of the bold BEAN- 


BEANO, subs, (printers'). The 
same as BEAN-FEAST (q.v.). 

BEAN TRAPS, subs. (American 
thieves'). A swell mobsman, 
or stylish sharper. BEANS (q.v.) 

are five-dollar gold pieces, and 
the insinuation is obvious. In 
old English cant a BEAN meant 
a guinea, probably from the 
French biens, property. 

BEANY, adj. (common). Full of 
vigour ; fresh, like a bean-fed 
horse. Or, it may be an allu- 
sion to the meaning of venery, 
which Aristotle says was 
attached to the word BEANS. 

1852. KINGSLEY, in Life (1876), I., 
278. The very incongruity keeps one 
BEANY and jolly. 

1870. Daily News, 27 July, 5. The 
horses . . . looked fresh and BEANY. 


BEAR, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
i. Applied, in the first instance, 
to stock sold by jobbers for de- 
livery by a certain date on the 
chance of prices falling in the 
meantime, thus allowing the 
seller to re-purchase at a profit. 
The phrase was probably at first 
' to sell the BEAR-SKIN , ' the buyers 
of such bargains being called 


in allusion to the proverb, ' To 
sell the bear's skin before one 
has caught the bear.' So far, 
the origin of the phrase seems 
pretty clear ; of the date of its in- 
troduction, however, nothing is 
known. It was a common term 
in Stock Exchange circles, at the 
time of the bursting of the 
South Sea Bubble in 1720, but 
it does not seem to have become 
colloquial until much later. In 
these transactions no stock was 
passed, the ' difference ' being 
settled according to the quo- 
tation of the day, as is the 
practice now in securities dealt 
with for ' the account." At 
present the term for such an 
arrangement is TIME-BARGAIN. 




1709. STEELE, Tatler, No. 38, p. 3. 
Being at that General Mart of stock- 
jobbers called Jonathans ... he bought 
the BEAR of another officer. [M.] 

1719. Anatomy of Change Alley (N. 
and Q., 5 S., vi., 118). Those who buy 
Exchange Alley bargains are styled 
'buyers of BEAR-SKINS.' [M.] 

1778. BAILEY, Dictionary (24 ed.). 
To sell A BEAR, to sell what one hath 

2. Hence a dealer who specu- 
lates for a fall. The earliest 
instance noted of this trans- 
ferred usage is in 

1744. London Magazine, 86. These 
noisy devotees were false ones, and in 
fact were only bulls and BEARS. [M.] 

1768. FOOTE, Devil upon Two Sticks, 
Act i. A mere bull and BEAR booby ; 
the patron of lame ducks, brokers, and 
fraudulent bankrupts. 

1774. COLMAN, Man of Business, iv., 
i., in wks. (1777) II., 179. My young 
master is the bull, and Sir Charles is the 
BEAR. He agreed for stock expecting it 
to be up at three hundred by this time ; 
but, lack-a-day, sir, it has been falling 
ever since. 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. iv. The 
hum and bustle which his approach was 
wont to produce among the bulls, BEARS, 
and brokers of Stock-alley. 

1860. PEACOCK, Gryll Grange, ch. 
xviii. In Stock Exchange slang, bulls 
are speculators for a rise, BEARS for a 

1889. A lly Sloper's H. H., Aug. 3, p. 
242, col. 3. Mrs. Spingles says she 
doesn't wonder that the Stock Exchange 
at times resembles a menagerie let loose, 
seeing what a lot of bulls, BEARS and 
stags they have at Capel Court. 

The French Bourse equiva- 
lent is un baissier. See the 
analogous terms BULL ; STAG ; 

3. (old.) The pupil of a pri- 
vate tutor, the latter being called 
a BEAR-LEADER (q.v.). From 
the general roughness and un- 
couthness of boys ; a reference 
to the heavy build and ungain- 
liness of the plantigrade in 
question, Even now the youth 

of the rising generation are 
sometimes called ' unlicked 
cubs.' Also called formerly 


1832. Legends of London, II., 247. 
When I was the youthful BEAR as the 
disciple of a private tutor is called at 
Oxford. [M.] 

Verb. To act as a BEAR (#.*;.). 

1861. New York Tribune, Nov. 29. 
There is no truth in the startling develop- 
ments, implicating British officials, in 
the Herald's despatch . . . His Lordship 
is wholly guiltless of the charge which 
the Herald, in its anxiety to BEAR THE 
MARKET, has brought against him. 


BEARS ? phr. (colloquial). A 
greeting of surprise at the re- 
appearance of anybody or any- 
thing ; are you there again ; or, 
in the words of its most recent 
slang equivalent, ' What, again ! 
so soon ? ' The phrase is ex- 
plained by Joe Miller, as the 
exclamation of a man who, 
not liking a sermon he had 
heard on Elisha and the BEARS, 
went next Sunday to another 
church, only to find the same 
preacher and the same dis- 

1642. JAMES HOWELL, Instructions 
for Forreine Travell , sec. 3. Another 
when at the racket court he had a ball 
struck into his hazard, he would ever 
and anon cry out, cstcs vous la, avec vos 
BEARS ? which is ridiculous in any other 
language but English. 

1740. RICHARDSON, Pamela, III., 
335. O no, nephew ! ARE YOU THERE- 

1820. SCOTT, Abbot, xv. Marry, 
BEARS ' ? muttered the dragon. 


(common). To behave in a 
rough and rude manner. 

1579. TOMSON, Calvin's Serm. Tim., 
p. 473, col. i. When we haue so turned 
all order vpsidowne . . . there is nothing 

but . . . PLAYING THE BEARE amongst 


Bearded Cad. 

Bear Up. 

BEAR A BOB, verbal phr. 
(nautical). i. To lend a hand; 
look sharp ! look alive ! 

2. (popular.) To aid, to 
assist, to take part in anything. 

BEARDED CAD, subs. (Winchester 
College). A porter, employed 
by the College to convey luggage 
from the railway station to the 
school. The term originated 
in an extremely hirsute indivi- 
dual, who, at one time, acted in 
the capacity. 

BEARD-SPLITTER, s^^bs. (old). A 
man much given to the com- 
pany of prostitutes; nowadays 
called A HOT MEMBER, or MOL- 
ROWER, which see for synonyms. 
[From BEARD, a tuft of hair + 
SPLITTER, one who divides. 
The allusion is obvious.] 


BEAR-GARDEN JAW, subs. (old). 
Rough, unmannerly speech; 
talk akin to that used in bear 
gardens and other places of low 
resort. Quoted by Grose, 1785. 
[From BEAR-GARDEN, a place set 
apart for bear baiting and other 
rough sports + JAW, talk or 

1848. JOHN FORSTER, Life of Oliver 
Goldsmith, bk. IV., chap. xi. He called 

perience of the War between France and 
Germany, p. 301. THE BEAR-GARDEN- 
LIKE BABEL was rather more noisy than 

BE - ARGERED, adj. (familiar). 

BEARING, ppl. adj. (Stock Ex- 
change). Acting as a BEAR 

(q.v.) ; or using artifices to lower 
the price of stock to suit a 
' bear ' account. 

ONE'S BEARINGS, verbal phr. 
(colloquial). To bring one to 
reason ; to act as a check. A 
nautical term. 

BEAR LEADER, subs. (old). A 
travelling tutor. In the days 
when it was customary to send 
1 young hopefuls ' on the Grand 
Tour, the expression was much 
more common and significant 
than is nowadays the case. The 
simile is taken from a person 
who leads about a tame bear 
for exhibition. 

1749. WALPOLE, Lett, to Mann, 
4 June (1883), vol. II., p. 392. I shall 
not wonder if she takes me for his 
BEAR-LEADER, his travelling governor ! 

1756. FOOTE, Englishman Returned 
from Paris, Act i. 

Serv. My young master's travelling 
tutor, sir, just arrived. 

Crab Shew him in. This BEAR- 
LEADER, I reckon now, is either the 
clumsy curate of the knight's own parish 
church, or some needy highlander. 

1812. COMBE, Dr. Syntax, Tour I 
ch. xxiii. 

And as I almost wanted bread, 
I undertook a BEAR TO LEAD, 
To see the brute perform his dance 
Through Holland, Italy, and France ; 
But it was such a very Bruin, 

I took my leave, and left the cub 
Some humbler Swiss to pay and drub. 
1848. THACKERAY, Book of Snobs, 
ch. vii. They pounced upon the stray 
nobility, and seized young lords travel- 
ling with their BEAR-LEADERS. 


Exchange). See 
sense i. 

subs. ( Stock 
BEAR, subs., 

BEAR UP, verb (common). To 
cheat ; to swindle in any way ; 
more particularly applied to 
the action of ' decoys ' and 




confederates. See BONNET. The 
derivation is obviously from 
that sense of TO BEAR UP, 
signifying support or backing 

1828. G. SMEETON, Doings in London, 
p. 40. The billiard-marker refused to 
make any division of the spoil, or even 
to return the 10 which had been lost to 
him in BEARING UP the cull. 

1883. Referee, Dec. 2, p. 2, col. 4. 
This looks as if the BEARING UP and 
' bonneting ' which has been done by 
friendly writers in response to my 
remarks is all thrown away. 

BEAST, subs, (common). i. Ap- 
plied to anything unpleasant ; 
or, to that which displeases ; 
e.g., 'It's a perfect BEAST of a 
day,' for 'it's an unpleasant 
day.' See BEASTLY. 

2. (American cadet.) A name 
given to new cadets at the U.S. 
Military Academy at West 
Point. See SNOOKER. 

3. (Cambridge University.) 
Anyone who has left school and 
come up to Cambridge for 
study, before entering the Uni- 
versity, is called a BEAST, be- 
cause ' he is neither man nor 

BEASTLY, adv. (popular). In mo- 
dern colloquial usage applied 
to whatever may offend the 
taste. Akin also to ' awful,' 
' everlasting,' etc. when used 
as mere intensitives, i.e., ' very, 1 
'exceedingly. 1 [Originally from 
BEASTLY, of, or pertaining to 
the nature of a beast ; hence, 
figuratively, brutish, irrational, 
unmanly ; whence, through a 
series of transitions, its slang 

1611. DEKKER, Roaring Girle, wks., 
1873, III., 159. I thought 'twould bee a 
BEASTLY iourney. 

1778. JOHNSON, in D'Arblay Diary, 
etc. (1876), vol. I., p. 37. ' It moves my 
indignation to see a gentleman take 
pains to appear a tradesman. Mr. 
Braughton would have written his name 
with just such BEASTLY flourishes ! ' 

1865. Daily Telegraph, 24 Oct., p. 
5, col. 3. He was in good health . . . 
looked almost ' BEASTLY well,' as I once 
heard it described. [M.] 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice Versa, ch. i. 
He had a troublesome dryness in his 
throat, and a general sensation of dull 
heaviness, which he himself would have 
described expressively enough, if not 
with academical elegance as 'feeling 


BEAST WITH Two BACKS, subs. phr. 
(old). Explained in second 

1602. SHAKSPEARE, Othello, Act i., 
Sc. i. Brabantio: What profane wretch 
art thou ? lago : I am one, Sir, that 
comes to tell you, your daughter and the 
Moor are now making the BEAST WITH 


1785. GROSE, Classical Dictionary 
of Vulgar Tongue. BEAST WITH TWO 
BACKS, a man and woman in the act of 

BEAT, subs. (American). i. This 
word is used in many ways, its 
precise meaning often depend- 
ing on its qualifying adjective. 
It is said of both men and 
things ; for example, a live BEAT 
is anybody or anything that sur- 
passes another, and the sense is 
not derogatory in the least. A 
dead BEAT, on the other hand, is 
the name given to a man who 
sponges on his fellows. [Pro- 
bably from that sense of BEAT 
signifying to overcome ; to show 
oneself superior to, either in a 
good or bad sense]. 

1888. New York Tribune, May 16. 
As we pay big money for our special 
news, we can't afford to throw it away 
on account of a little mistake in the name. 
So we shove her in with the single re- 
mark that it is better to have a Carrot 
for a President than a DEAD BEAT for a 
son-in-law. In this way, we again score 




a LIVE BEAT on the galoot ' The Rip- 
snorter.' Whoopee! Now is the time 
to subscribe. 

1888. New York Mercury, Aug. 7. 
But not only steamboats and locomotives 
were used by reporters for BEATS, but 
one newspaper man named Monroe F. 
Gale made a trip across the Atlantic in a 

E Hot-boat, to get some peculiar news in 
is own fashion. All things taken into 
consideration, there never was a bolder 
voyage over the Atlantic than this made 
by the ' Romer,' all for the sake of a few 
' points ' in news. 

2. (popular.) The round of 
a policeman or watchman when 
on duty ; one's daily round of 
duty, work, etc.; and, figura- 
tively, one's sphere of influence. 

1788. G. A. STEVENS, Adv. of a 
Speculist, i., 211. The first evening I 
took my stand in Fleet Street, to look 
out for a fare, I was drove from street to 
street by women of my own profession, 
who swore I should not come in their 
BEATS until I had paid my 'footing.' 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, 
p. 31. The costermongers repaired to 
their ordinary BEATS in the suburbs. 

1862. Saturday Review, 15 March, 
295 Ask him why anything is so-and-so, 
and you have got out of his BEAT. [M.] 

Faire sa nouveaute is said of a 
French prostitute when seeking 
fresh fields and pastures new. 

Ppl. adj. (popular). i. Over- 
come ; exhausted; 'done up.' 
Generally DEAD-BEAT (q.v.). 
[A shortened form of BEATEN.] 

1832. MOORE, Jerome, etc., wks. II. 
(1862), 558. Till fairly BEAT, the saint 
gave o'er. [M.] 

1859. H. KINGSLEY, Geoffery Ham- 
lyn, ch. xxxvii. ' The lad was getting 
BEAT, and couldn't a'gone much 
further. 1 

2. Hence also, figuratively, to 
be baffled ; defeated. 

Verb (American) . To swin- 
dle ; to deceive ; to cheat. 

1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, Ap. 12. 
Later he heard of her marriage to some 

lawyer or artist named Diss Debar. Pre- 
vious to this she had been in Montreal 
and telegraphed that she was dyinp. 
She BEAT the hotel out of a hundred 

DAISY BEAT (American 
thieves'). A swindle of the first 
water; a robbery of magnitude. 


(popular) . To excel ; to sur- 

1759. TOWNLEY, High Life Below 
Stairs, I., ii. Crab was BEAT HOLLOW, 
Careless threw his rider, and Miss 
Slammerkin had the distemper. 

1847. BARHAM, Ingoldsby Legends 
(1877), p. 55. Many ladies . . . were 
BEAT ALL TO STICKS by the lovely 
Odille. [M.] 

1854. WHYTE MELVILLE, General 
Bounce, ch. i. Talk of climate ! a real 
fine day in England, like a really hand- 
some Englishwoman, BEATS CREATION. 

Coventry, ch. i. I rode a race against 
Bob Dashwood the other morning, 


1879. LOWELL, Poetical Works, 418. 
And there's where I shall BEAT THEM 

1889. Modem Society, 19 Oct., p. 
1302. (How the Nobility live in Ger- 
many.) Germans BEAT THE ENGLISH 
HOLLOW at drinking beer; the ladies 
drink it, and the children also, like milk ; 
and it seems to agree with them, for they 
are very robust. They are not cere- 
monious at any meal, and eat as if in a 
hurry for a train, cutting up all on their 
plate first, then forking it in with the aid 
of bread or their fingers. 

The French say arriver bon 
premier, ' to arrive ' or ' be a 
good first.' Cf., synonyms in 


the advantage of. The same 
idea is expressed in the phrase 


THE WORLD ; in other words, to 
push one's interests with vigour 
and pertinacity. As used by 
thieves and their associates, TO 

Beat Daddy Mammy. 


GET A BEAT ON ONE, besides 

conveying the idea of obtaining 
an advantage, also implies that 
the point has been scored by 
underhand, secret, or unlawful 


phr. (nautical). To strike the 
hands across the chest and 
under the armpits to warm 
them. Formerly TO BEAT 

1883. Times, 15 March, p. 9, col. 6. 
The common labourers at outdoor work 
were BEATING GOOSE to drive the blood 
from their fingers. [M.] 


(American). To travel by rail 
without paying. See DEAD- 
HEADS and To BEAT, sense i. 


BEAT DADDY MAMMY (old military). 
To tattoo; to practice the 
elements of drum beating. 

phr. (American). See BEDROCK. 

BEATEN OUT, ppl. adj. with adv. 
(common) . Impoverished ; in 
one's last straits ; hard up. 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, I., p. 351. The BEATEN 
OUT mechanics and artisans, who, from 
want of employment in their own trade, 
take to making small things. Ibid, p. 400. 
The last class of street sellers is the 
BEATEN OUT mechanic or workman. 

BEATER-CASES, subs. (old). Boots 
or shoes. Nearly obsolete. TROT- 
TER-CASES (q.v.) is the usual term 
nowadays. See BEATERS. 

BEATERS, subs. (American). The 
feet. [A transferred sense of 
BEATER, originally signifying 
one who 'beat' or walked the 

streets. Barclay, in Shyp of 
Folys (1509), speaks of ' night 
watchers and BETERS of the 
stretes.'] For synonyms, see 

BEAT THE HOOF, verbal phr. (popu- 
lar). To walk; to plod; to 
prowl. [From BEAT, in the 
sense of to strike the ground 
in walking, etc., + HOOF, a 
humorous term for the foot.] 
To BEAT THE HOOF is an older 
form of the modern PAD THE 
HOOF (q.v.). 

1596. SHAKSPEARE, Merry Wives of 

Windsor, Act i., Sc. 3. Falstaff: Hold, 

sirrah, [to Robin] bear you these letters 

tightly ; 

Sail like my pinnace to these golden 

Rogues, hence, avaunt ! vanish like hail- 
stones, go ; 

Trudge, PLOD AWAY, o' THE HOOF ; seek 
shelter, pack ! 
1691. WOOD, Ath. Oxon., II., 412. 


London. [M.] 


BEAU TRAP, subs. (old). i. A loose 
stone in a pavement, under 
which water lodges, and which, 
on being trodden upon, squirts 
it up, to the great damage of 
clean clothes. 

2. (old.) Also a well-dressed 
sharper, on the look out for 
raw country visitors and such 

3. (old.) A fop, well- 
dressed outwardly indeed, but 
whose linen, person, and habits 
generally, are unclean. 

BEAUTY, subs. (American cadet). 
A term applied, on the rule 
of contrary, to the plainest or 
ugliest cadet in the class at the 
United States Military Academy 




at West Point. C/., SNOOKER 
and BABE. 

BEAUTY-SLEEP, subs, (familiar). 
Sleep before midnight, the idea 
being that early hours conduce 
to health and beauty. 

1850. SMEDLEY, Frank Fairleigh, II., 
p. 120. The fair pupils have talked them- 
selves to sleep, which, if report does not 
belie them, is not until they have for- 
feited all chance of adding to their 
attractions by getting a little BEAUTY- 
SLEEP before twelve o'clock. 

1857. KINGSLEY, Two Years Ago, 
ch. xv. ' Are you going ? it is not late ; 
not ten o'clock yet.' 'A medical man, 
who may be called up at any moment. 
must make sure of his BEAUTY-SLEEP.' 

1869. BLACKMORE, Lorna Doone, 
ch. Ixiv. Would I please to remember 
that I had roused him up at night, and 
the quality always made a point of pay- 
ing four times over for a man's loss of 
his BEAUTY-SLEEP. I replied that his 
loss of BEAUTY-SLEEP was rather im- 
proving to a man of so high a com- 

1880. JAS. PAYN, Confid. Agent, ch. 
iii. ' You must get your BEAUTY-SLEEP,' 
cried he to his wife when Barlow had 
departed, ' or you will have no colour in 
your cheeks to-morrow.' 

BEAVER, subs, (common). i. An 
old term for a hat ; GOSS or 
CADY, however, is more fre- 
quently heard nowadays. At 
one time hats were made of 
beaver's fur hence the name ; 
the term is still occasionally 
applied to tall ' chimney-pot 
hats,' in spite of the fact that 
for many years silk has replaced 
the skin of the rodent in their 

1528. ROY, Sat. To exalte the thre 
folde crowne Of anti-christ hys BEVER. 


1661. PEPYS, Diary, 27 June. Mr. 
Holden sent me a BEVER, which cost me 

1712. GAY, Trivia, bk. II., 1., 277. 
The broker here his spacious BEAVER 

Upon his brow sit jealousies and cares. 

1855. THACKERAY, Newcomes, ch. ix. 
' Had you not better take off your hat ? ' 
asks the Duchess, pointing ... to 
' the foring cove's ' BEAVER, which he 
had neglected to remove. 

1857. O. W. HOLMES, Autocrat of 
the Breakfast Table, ch. x. We know 
this of our hats, and are always reminded 
of it when we happen to put them on 
wrong side foremost. We soon find 
that the BEAVER is a hollow cast of the 
skull, with all its irregular bumps and 

IN BEAVER, phr. (University). 
In a tall hat and non-aca- 
demical garb, as distinguished 
from cap and gown. 

1840. New Monthly Magazine, lix., 
271. He ... went out of College in 
what the members of the United Service 
called mufti, but members of the Uni- 
versity BEAVER, which means not in his 
academics his cap and gown. [M.] 

See also BEVER. 

BECK, subs, (old cant). i. A con- 
stable. See BEAK and COPPER. 
2. A parish beadle. Ap- 
parently the term was applied 
to all kinds of watchmen. See 

Verb (thieves'). To im- 
prison. Amongst Dutch thieves 
bekaan has the same signification, 

1861. READE, Cloister and Hearth 
ch. Iv. The circle with the two dots 
was writ by another of our brotherhood, 
and it signifies as how the writer . . . 
was BECKED, was asking here, and lay 
two months in Starabin. 

To bury. For analogous ex- 
pressions, see LADDER. 

c. 1881. Broadside Ballad, ' Hands 
Kitty Crea, some fine day, when I'm laid 

in the clay, 
PUT TO BED WITH A SPADE in the usual 





And yourself on the shelf a neglected 

old maid, 
Troth, your conscience will sting you, 

I'm greatly afraid. 

BEDDER, subs. (Cambridge Univer- 
sity). A charwoman ; one who 
makes the beds and performs 
other necessary domestic duties 
for residents in college. 

BED- FAGOT, subs, (familiar). i. 
Applied contemptuously to a 
woman; Cf., 'hussy,' 'witch, 1 

2. Synonymous with prosti- 
tute. For full list of analogous 
terms, see BARRACK-HACK. 

BEDFORDSHIRE, subs, (familiar). 
A humorous term for bed. 
There are several other phrases 
of a kindred character ; as, for 
example, SHEET ALLEY (q.v.) ; 
LAND OF NOD (q.v.), etc. 

1665. COTTON, Poet. Wks. (1765), 76. 
Each one departs to BEDFORDSHIRE. 
And pillows all securely snort on. [M.] 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. iii.). 

Lady Ans. I'm sure 'tis time for all 
honest folks to go to bed. 

Miss. Indeed my eyes draw straws 
(she's almost asleep) . . . 

Col. I'm going to the Land of Nod. 

Ner. Faith, I'm for BEDFORDSHIRE. 

1845. HOOD, Miss Kilmansegg. 
The time for sleep had come at last, 
And there was the bed, so soft, so vast, 
Quite a field of BEDFORDSHIRE clover. 

BED- House, subs, (common). A 
place of assignation where beds 
can be hired for a longer or 
shorter period as required 
hence the name. For synonyms 
generally, see NANNY SHOP. 

BEDOOZLE, verb (American). To 
confuse ; to bewilder. Pro- 
bably a corrupt form of the 

old English verb 'bedazzle,' 
used by Shakspeare in Taming 
of the SJireii.', iv., 5, 46. [1593.] 

A BEDPOST, phr. (familiar). 
Instantaneously ; with great 
rapidity. Originally IN THE 


This phrase has given rise to 
not a little speculation; first, as to 
what use the BEDSTAFF was put ; 
and, secondly, as to its possible 
connection with rapidity of 
motion. The generally received 
explanation is that the staff 
referred to was, as Johnson 
puts it, ' a wooden pin stuck 
anciently on sides of the bed- 
stead to hold the cloaths from 
slipping on either side.' Dr. 
Murray, however, points out 
that the great lexicographer 
gave no authority, and also that 
' no corroborative evidence has 
been found." Still it seems 
certain that bedstaffs were used 
and kept near beds for some 
purpose by our ancestors. 
Bobadil, in Every Man in his 
Humour [1596], uses one to 
display his skill with the rapier, 
and the following explanation 
has been suggested by Mr. 
Thomas Boys [Notes and Queries, 
2 S., vi., 437]. The bedstaff 
was an upright peg, fixed into 
the side of the bedstead after 
the manner of a pin, and pro- 
jecting upwards to keep the 
bed clothes in their place. Con- 
sequently, as offering the means 
of exhibiting the use of the 
rapier, the wooden bedstaff 
may have afforded a very 
available as well as harmless 
implement. Suppose then the 
bedstaff to have been an up- 
right peg or pin fitting into a 
hole or socket in the side of 




the bedstead, and, in length, 
about equal to the rapier. The 
socket is a few inches deep ; 
and the bedstaff has (to steady 
it) a projecting rim which over- 
lays the socket like a lid. The 
part of the bedstaff which 
enters the socket will then be 
the hilt of the rapier ; the pro- 
jecting rim will be the guard; 
and the rest of the staff will do 
duty as the blade. In the bed- 
staff we have then the form of 
a rapier ; and, with this imple- 
ment of wood, Captain Bobadil 
would have no difficulty in ex- 
hibiting his passado and stoccado. 
The rapier of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth centuries, more- 
over, was by no means the 
light and foil-like weapon now 
known as the small sword. It 
was of great length and heavy, 
and a bedstaff such as that 
suggested above, with a species 
of guard, and most likely about 
the weight of a heavy single- 
stick, would have been no bad 
instrument wherewith to in- 
doctrinate a tyro in the noble 
art of self defence. 

Hence, probably, if this be so, 
the derivation of the expression, 

STAFF ; more especially if, as 
would occasionally be the case, 
it were used as a weapon of 
defence against intruders, when 
possibly even life itself might 
hang upon a dexterous use of 
the implement. 

1660. Charac. Italy, 78. IN THE 
himself . . . and was just skipping into 
bed. [M.] 

1676. T. SHADWELL, Virtuoso, I., i. 
'Gad, I'll do it instantly, IN THE TWINK- 

1698. WARD, London Spy, pt. XL, 
259. Shake 'em off and leap into bed, IN 


1854. F. E. SMEDLEY, Harry 
Coyerdale, ch. i. ' I'll adown and be 


may be included : In a jiffy ; 
in two two's ; in a brace of 
shakes ; before you can say Jack 
Robinson ; in a crack ; in the 
squeezing of a lemon. 

THE BEDPOST, plw . (familiar). 
A humorous tag to an assertion ; 
i.e., ' between ourselves ' ; 'I 
know what you say, but, BE- 
TWEEN YOU AND ME, etc. . . . 
the thing is absurd.' Some- 
times the last word is varied 
by 'post,' 'doorpost,' or 'gate 
post ' any prop seems to serve. 

1831. BULWER LYTTON, Eugene 
Aram, p. 234. Ah, sir, all very well to 
say so; but, BETWEEN YOU AND ME AND 
THE BEDPOST, young master's quarrelled 
with old master. 

1838. DICKENS, Nicholas Nickleby, p. 


POST, sir, it will be a very nice portrait 

1879. Punch, March 8, p. 108. Dis- 
cussing an absent friend. 'Yes, Robin- 
son's a clever feller, and he's a modest 
feller, and he's a honest feller ; but BE- 

Jones,' said Brown, confidentially, pick- 
ing his wisdom tooth with his little finger 
nail, ' Robinson ain't got neither the 
Looks, nor yet the Language, nor yet the 
Manners of a Gentleman.' 

' Right you are, sir ! ' said Jones, 
shovelling the melted remains of his 
Ice Pudding into his Mouth with a Steel 
Knife (which he afterwards wiped on the 
Table Cloth). ' You've 'it 'im orf t* a T ! ' 

ROCK [in anything; whether in 
an enquiry, or in one's circum- 
stances, etc.] . To the bottom ; 
to the lowest level. A miner's 
term, alluding to the solid rock 
underlying superficial and other 
formations. Therefore, meta- 
phorically, ' to reach BEDROCK ' 




is to attain a solid basis or 
foundation ; BEDROCK FACTS are 
the ' chiels that winna ding ' 
the incontestible and uncon- 
trovertible truth. 

1870. BRET HARTE, Poems and 
Prose, p. 113. 'No! no!' continued T. 
hastily. ' I play this yer hand alone. 


just this,' etc. 

1875. Scribner's Magazine, p. 277. 
Getting to the real character of a man is 


1888. Louisiana Press, March 31. 
Thomas J. Whiteman, of Carrol county, 
is a Republican candidate for Governor 
of Missouri. You can bet your BEDROCK 
dollar that the next governor of Missouri 
will be a white man, although his first 
name isn't apt to be Thomas. 


or BONNET, phr. (familiar). To 
be possessed of queer ideas ; 
'half-cracked 1 ; flighty. This 
phrase is of considerable anti- 
quity, being traced back to a 
Scotch writer, Gawin Douglas 
by name [1474-1521] , Bishop of 
Dunkeld, who used it in a trans- 
lation of Virgil's JEneid. 

1512-3 (translated: published in 1553). 
GAWIN DOUGLAS, &neis, VIII., Prol. 
120. Quhat bern be thou in bed with 


1657. SAMUEL COLVIL, Whigg's 
Supplication, or Scotch Hudibras [1710]. 
Which comes from BRAINS WHICH HAVE 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's, ch. xvii. 
' Maybe ye think the puir lassie has A 
BEE IN HER BONNET; but ye ken your- 
sell if naebody but wise folk were to 
marry, the warld wad be ill peopled.' 

1853. BULWER LYTTON, My Novel, 
III., 307. It is not an uncommon crochet 
amongst benevolent men to maintain 
that wickedness in necessarily a sort of 
insanity, and that nobody would make 
a violent start out of a straight path 
unless stung to such disorder by a BEE 


For synonyms, see APART- 

1868. DR. BREWER, Dictionary of 
Phrase and Fable, p. 77, col. 2. You HAVE 


is FULL OF BEES \ [i.e.'] full of devices, 
crotchets, fancies, inventions, and 
dreamy theories. The connection be- 
tween bees and the soul was once 
generally maintained .... the moon 
was called a bee by the priestesses of 
Ceres, and the word lunatic or moon- 
struck still means one with ' BEES IN HIS 

IEEF, subs, (common). i. Human 
flesh (a transferred sense) ; i.e., 
obese ; stolid ; or fleshy like 

1862. Cork Examiner, March 28. 
Chelmsford stood higher in the leg, and 
showed less BEEF about him. [M.] 

2. (nautical.) By a further 
transition BEEF has also come 
to signify men ; strength ; or 
' hands '; ' More BEEF ! ' a bo'- 
sun's exhortation to extra 

1863. Cornhill Magazine. Feb., ' Life 
on Board a Man of War." Useful at the 
heavy hauling of braces, etc., where 
plenty of BEEF is required. [M.] 

3. (common.) The penis. 
For synonyms, see CREAMSTICK. 

To BE IN BEEF, phr. (old) 
Said only of women. It means 
to have carnal knowledge. 

To BE IN A MAN'S BEEF, phr. 
(old). To wound with a sword. 


BEEF, phr. (thieves'). To give 
an alarm ; to pursue ; to set up 
a hue and cry. It has been 
suggested that BEEF in this 
case is a rhyming synonym to 
'thief.' For synonyms, see To 

MAS BEEF, phr. (common). To 
be decked out in one's best 
raiment ; in allusion to the 

Beef-Brained. l6 3 


' dressing ' of Christmas beef by 

To MAKE BEEF, phr. (thieves'). 
To run away ; to decamp. 
For synonyms, see AMPUTATE. 

BEEF! intj. (Australian). 
' Stop thief.' C/., To CRY or 


BEEF UP ! phr. (common). 
1 Put on your strength ! ' ' Give 
a long pull and a strong pull ! ' 

BEEF-BRAINED, adj. (common). 
Doltish ; obtuse ; thickheaded ; 
a reference to the heavy, dull- 
ness of appearance of oxen. 

BEEF-HEAD, subs, (common). A 
dolt ; a stupid, thickheaded per- 
son. C/., BEEF-BRAINED. 

BEEF IT, verb (common). Con- 
sidered originally a provincial- 
ism, but now common. The 
lower classes in the East End of 
London frequently speak of 
BEEFING IT, either in reality 
or anticipation (mostly latter), 
when referring to a meat meal, 
more particularly when it hap- 
pens to be beef. 

adv. phr. (thieves'). On the 
alert ; on the look out. 

BEEF-STICK, subs, (military). The 
bone in a joint of beef. At mess 
it is ' first come, best served ' ; 
and those who come last some- 
times get little more than the 



GAR HEIFER, phr. (Irish). A 
stalwart man, or a fine woman ; 
i.e., one whose superiority is 

manifest from the crown of the 
head to the sole of the foot; 
literally, ALL BEEF DOWN TO 


c. 1880. RHODA BROUGHTON, Cometh 
up as a Flower, p. 193. Dolly was not a 
fine woman as they say, at all ; not BEEF 
TO THE HEELS, by any means ; in a 
grazier's eye she would have had no 
charm whatsoever. 

BEEF-WITTED, adj. (common). Sec 

1594. NASHE, Terrors of the Night, 
in wks. (Grosart) III., 257. Liues 
there anie such slowe yce-braind BEEFK- 
WITTED gull. 

1863. Reader, 22 Aug. This British 
bull-neckedness, this British BEEF-WIT- 

BEEFY, adj. (common). Fleshy; 
unduly thick, or obese. [From 
BEEF + Y : a transferred 
sense.] Also BEEFINESS, subs., 
fleshy development. The ankles 
of women are sometimes un- 
gallantly spoken of as BEEFY, 
with which compare BEEF TO 
THE HEELS. A run of luck 
and good fortune, generally, is 
likewise referred to as BEEFY. 

1859. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. xi. To see him in his huge shirt- 
sleeves, with his awkward BEEFY hands 
hanging inanely by his side, and his 
great foolish mouth open. 

BEE-LINE [fora place or object] , 
phr. (originally American ; now 
common). To go direct ; ' as 
the crow flies ' ; without cir- 
cumlocution. Bees, when fully 
laden with pollen, make for the 
hive in a straight, or BEE-LINE. 
One of the American railways 
is called the BEE-LINE ROAD 
from the direct route it takes 
between its termini. Cf., 

Beelzebub's Paradise. l6 4 


1848. J. R. LOWELL, Biglow Papers. 
The field of Lexin'ton where England 


The fastest colors thet she ever dyed. 
An' Concord Bridge, thet Davis, when 

he came, 
Found was the BEE-LINE TRACK to 

heaven an' fame, 

Ez all roads be by natur", ef your soul 
Don't sneak thur shun-pikes so's to save 

the toll. 

1874. M. COLLINS, Frances, ch. y. 
How they could follow an enemy's trail, 
or STRIKE A BEE-LINE through unpathed 
woods to the point they sought ! 

1875. Miss BIRD, Six Mos. in Sand- 
wich Islands, Lett, xxix., p. 275 (1886). 
Horses cross the sand and hummocks as 
nearly as possible ON A BEE-LINE. 

1884. ALDRIDGE, Ranch Notes, p. 78. 
The cattle are in great dread of this 
pest [the heel-fly], and the instant an 
animal feels one, it hoists its tail in the 
air, and TAKES A BEE-LINE for the 
nearest water. 


(popular). Hell ; the infernal 
regions. Beelzebub is a fre- 
quent mis-reading for Beelzebul, 
the name given by the Jews to 
the prince of demons. The 
usage occurs in the New 
Testament at Matthew x., 25, 
and xii., 24-27, where Beelze- 
bub should read Beelzebul. The 
former is properly the god of 
the Philistines, worshipped as 
the destroyer of flies [from 
Hebrew b a,al, lord + zebub, a fly] ; 
whilst the latter is an oppro- 
brious change on the former 
[from Hebrew baal, \ord+zebul, 

BEEN IN THE SUN, adv. phr. (com- 
mon). A synonym for ' drunk,' 
in connection with which see 
SCREWED. An allusion to a 
flushed, heated appearance. 

UMBRELLA, phr. (American). 
Said sportively of anyone 
appearing in new, ill-fitting 

clothes, or who has struck out 
a new line of action, the wisdom 
of which is doubtful. The joke 
is an old one and refers to a 
man of whom it was said that 
nothing fitted him but his um- 

BEEN THERE, phr. (American), 
i.e., ' I know what I am about.' 
A popular exclamation. When 
it is said of a man that he has 
BEEN THERE, shrewdness, per- 
tinacity, and experience are 
implied. A variant may be 
found in the equally slang ex- 
pression, ' he got there all the 
same.' See GOT THERE. 

1888. Atlanta Constitution, May 4. 
The Japanese say: 'A man takes a 
drink ; then the drink takes a drink, and 
next the drink takes the man.' Evidently 
the Japanese ' have BEEN THERE.' 

2. Another and more invidious 
meaning, however, is attached 
to the phrase. Women sus- 
pected of clandestine meetings 
with men are said to have BEEN 

BEER, subs, (familiar). To DO A 
BEER, i.e., to take a drink of 

1880. Punch's Almanac, p. 3. 
Quarter-day, too, no more chance ot 


Fancy I shall 'ave to cut my stick. 
Got the doldrums dreadful, that is clear, 
Two d. left! must GO AND DO A BEER! 

1889. Sporting Times, July 6. It was 
the old tale of stony, pebble-beached, 
block granite Wednesday, and money on 
the staff there was none. ' Pitcher,' said 
Shifter, brushing the dust off his tongue, 
' got enough for a BEER ? ' ' Enough for 
a BEER ? ' repeated Pitcher. ' Good 
heavens, I wish I had. If Bass's ale was 
a ha'penny a barrel I couldn't buy 
enough to soak a fly-paper ! ' 

Verb. To drink beer ; also, to 
get drunk. 

Beer and Bible. 

Beer and Skittles. 

1780-6. WOLCOT (' P. Pindar ') Odes 
R. Acad., wks., 1794, I., 105. He surely 
had been brandying it or BEERING, that 
is, in plainer English, he was drunk. [D.] 


[of oneself] , phr. (common). 
Small beer is weak beer ; hence, 
figuratively equivalent to a trifle. 
The expression, TO THINK NO 
cates, therefore, a good measure 
of self-esteem. 

1840. DE QUINCEY, Style, wks. XL, 
174. [I] should express her self-esteem 
by the popular phrase, that she did not 


BEER AND BIBLE, phr. (political). 
An epithet applied sarcastically 
to a political party which first 
came into prominence during 
the last Beaconsfield Adminis- 
tration. It was called into being 
by a measure introduced by the 
moderate Liberals in 1873, with 
a view to placing certain re- 
strictions upon the sale of intoxi- 
cating drinks. The Licensed 
Victuallers, an extremely power- 
ful association, whose influence 
extended all over the kingdom, 
took alarm, and turned to the 
Conservatives for help in oppos- 
ing the bill. In the ranks of the 
latter were numbered the chief 
brewers ; the leaders of the asso- 
ciation, moreover, had mostly 
strong high church tendencies, 
while one of them was president 
of the Exeter Hall organization. 
The Liberals, noting these facts, 
sarcastically nicknamed this 
alliance the BEER AND BIBLE 
ASSOCIATION ; the Morning 
Advertiser, the organ of the 
LicensedVictuallers, was dubbed 
and lastly, electioneering tactics 
ascribed to them the war cry of 


called BEER AND BIBLE interest 
made rapid strides: in 1870 
the Conservatives were at their 
low water mark among the 
London constituencies ; but, in 
1880, they had carried seats in 
the City, Westminster, Maryle- 
bone, Tower Hamlets, Green- 
wich, and South wark A notable 
exception to this strange fellow- 
ship was Mr. Bass [afterwards 
Lord Bass], of pale-ale fame, 
who held aloof from opposition to 
the measure in question. Anent 
the nickname BEER AND BIBLE 
GAZETTE given to the Morning 
Advertiser, it may be mentioned 
that it had already earned for 
itself a somewhat similar sobri- 
quet. For a long time this 
paper devoted one-half of its 
front page to notices of publicans 
and tavern-keepers ; while the 
other half was filled up with 
announcements of religious 
books, and lists of preachers at 
the London churches and 
chapels. This gained for the 
paper the equally singular 
sobriquet of the ' Gin and 
Gospel Gazette.' 



phr. (familiar), i.e., not alto- 
gether pleasant, or couleur de 
rose. A tap room simile, the 
allusion being to drinking beer 
and playing at skittles at one 
and the same time. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 138. But football 
wasn't all BEER AND SKITTLES to the 
Fags. There was an institution called 
4 Kicking in,' which, while it lasted, 
was much worse than ' watching out ' at 
cricket, although it had the very great 
merit of not continuing so long; for, 
even on a whole holiday, we seldom had 
more than two hours of it. 

1889. Pall Mull Gaz., Aug. 13, p. 6. 
Prince George of Wales is ' learning his 




profession,' and finds it is not all BEER 
AND SKITTLES. That run across the 
Channel into Queenstown harbour 
showed our young naval officer the 
diffeience between an ironclad and a 
torpedo boat. The latter is an uncom- 
monly lively craft, and in a choppy sea 
under a fresh breeze was surprisingly 
nimble. The commander of No. 79 
arrived in the harbour, having shown 
that at least in one respect he has 
already something in common with the 
late admiral, Lord Nelson. The officers 
of the Revenge had the honour to request 
the pleasure of the company of the 
Prince and his brother officers to break- 
fast. The brother officers went, His 
Royal Highness spent, the day in his 
hammock, and towards evening wrote to 
his Royal Father a description of the 
perils of the deep. 

BEER-BARREL, subs, (common). 
The human body. Cf., BACON. 

BEERINESS, subs., BEERY, adj. 
(common). Pertaining to a 
state of, or approaching to 
drunkenness ; intoxicated ; fud- 
dled with beer. For synonyms, 

1857. DICKENS, Dorrit, bk. I., ch. viii., 
p. 56. The stranger was left to the . . . 
BEERY atmosphere, sawdust, pipe-lights, 
spittoons, and repose. 

1877. D. C. MURRAY, in Belgravia, 
July, p. 73. There was a BEERY and 
bloated captain, resident in the inn, who 
had left the army, as the rumour ran, 
under disreputable auspices. 

1889. Modern Society, July 13, p. 838. 
It is a fact that does not seem to have 
struck anyone, that Shakspeare's first 
appearance as a sporting tipster was in 
the words, ' Lay on Macdufl. 1 We be- 
lieve, however, that they could at that 
time have got five to one against him. 
So sure was the bard of his tip, that he 
added, in his own classical language, 
' Damn'd be he that first cries, Hold, 
enough,' which is vulgarly translated by 
the BEERY oracle of the kerbstone, ' Put 
yer shirt on 'im, cuffs an' all.' 

BEER-JERKER, subs. (American). 
A tippler. See JERKER and 

BEEROCRACY. subs, (common). 
The brewing and beer-selling 
interest. [A humorous appella- 
tion in imitation of aristocracy. 
From BEER + [o] CRACY, from 
Greek jqoareu, to rule, to hold. 

1881. World, 19 Jan., p. 10, col. 2. 
The startling mixture of peerage and 
BEEROCRACY . . . was absent this time. 


BEESWAX, subs. (old). i. Poor, 
soft cheese. Sometimes called 


1821. W. T. MONCRIEFK, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 3. Bob: Now, land- 
lord, 'arter that 'ere drap of max, suppose 
we haves a drain o' heavy wet, just by 
way of cooling our chaffers mine's as dry 
as a chip and, I say, do you hear, let's 
have a twopenny burster, half a quartern 
of BEESVAX, a ha'p'orth o' ingens, and 
a dollop o' salt along vith it, vill you? 
Mace : Bellay ! a burster and BEESVAX 
ingens and salt here. (Calling as he 
fetches the porter from the side wing, L.). 
Now, then, here you are, Master Grim- 

1849. Bell's Life. [From Baumann.] 
A burster with a slice of BEESWAX. 

2. A bore ; one who ' button- 
holes ' another. Generally, OLD 


BEESWAXERS, subs. (Winchester 
College). Thick boots used for 
football. Probably from being 
smeared with beeswax or other 
substitute for rendering foot- 
gear supple. Pronounced Bes- 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 137. Our costume 
consisted of a jersey, flannel trousers, 
BEESWAXERS (lace-up boots), or 'High- 
lows' (low shoes), with two or three 
pairs of ' Worsteders ' (thick worsted 
stockings), the /eet of all but one pair 
being cut off. 




BEESWING, subs, (common). A 
gauzy film or 'crust,' in port 
wines, the result of age. [From 
BEES -f WING ; so called from 
its appearance when broken up 
in the process of decanting.] 
Hence also BEESWINGED. 

1846. THACKERAY, VanityFair, III., 
p. 26. Scott from under bushy eyebrows 
winked at the apparition of a BEESWING. 

1850. D. JERROLD, The Catspaw, 
Act i. Whereupon, the animal spirits 
are held in suspense, like like the BEES- 
WING in port. 

1873. FITZEDWARD HALL, Modern 
English, p. 32. This port is not present- 
able unless BEESWINGED. 

OLD BEESWING, subs, (com- 
mon). A nickname for anyone, 
but especially for one who 
' takes to his liquor kindly ' as 
the saying goes. 

18(?). MARK LEMON, Golden Fetters, 
II., p. 74. Mr. Clendon did not call Mr. 
Barnard 'old cock,' 'old fellow,' or 



SQUASHER, subs, (popular). I. 
A large foot. The term was 
popularised by Leech in the 
pages of Punch. For synonyms, 
see HOOF. 

2. In a transferred and now 
more common sense to that 
originally obtaining, a large 
boot or shoe. Also BEETLE- 
CASES. For synonyms, see 

1869. W. BRADWOOD, The O.V.H., 
ch. xxi. Writhing yet striving to look 
pleasant on the infliction which the 
BEETLE-CRUSHER of a recent arrival had 
just inflicted on his pet corn. 

r. 1880. RHODA BROUGHTON, Cometh 
up as a Flower, II., p. 200. Yes, but what 
horrible boots ! Whoever could have 
had the atwocity to fwame such BEETLE- 

3. (military.) An infantry 
soldier ; the term is applied to 

them by the cavalry. A variant 
is MUD-CRUSHER, which see for 

BEETLE-CRUSHING, adj. (popular). 
With solid tread, such as comes 
from large heavy feet encased 
in boots or shoes to match ; 
eg., the marching of infantry. 
Cf., BEETLE-CRUSHER, sense 3. 

1876. Anteros, I., p. 188. The possi- 
bility floated before him, now, of sending 
all his live and dead stock into the 
market, of exchange into a sedate 


BEETLES, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
Colorado mine shares. 

1887. ATKINS, House Scraps. 
Oh supposing our creamjugs were 

Or BEETLES were sowing the babies. 

BEETLE-STICKER, subs, (common). 
An entomologist. 

BEFORE THE WIND, phr. (colloquial). 
In prosperous circumstances ; 
out of debt or difficulty. From 
the nautical expression. 

BEGAD! intj. (common). A cor- 
ruption of 'By God!' and, as 
such a euphemistic oath. See 

1742. FIELDING, J. Andrews. BE- 
GAD ! madam . . . 'tis the very same I 

1848. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, II., 
iv., 39. Only one, BEGAD ! in the world. 

etc., phr. (common). An em- 
phatic form of asseveration ; i.e., 
' I'll give up everything, even to 
being reduced to beggary, if,' etc. 


(old). A 


168 Behind One's Side. 

BEGGARS, subs, (cards'). The 
small cards from the deuce to 
the ten are so called. 





1584. HUDSON, Judith, in Sylvester's 
Du Barias (1608), 698. A pack of country 
clowns . . . that them to battail 
bownes, with BEGGER'S BOLTS and 
levers. [M.] 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. ' The BEGGAR'S 
BULLETS began to fly ' ; i.e., they began 
to throw stones. 

BEGGAR'S BUSH, phr. (old). To 
go to ruin ; otherwise explained 
as follows. 

1686. Twelve Ingenious Characters. 
He throws away his wealth as heartily 
as young heirs, or old philosophers, and 
is so eager of a goal, or a mumper's 
wallet, that he will not wait fortune's 
leisure to undo him, but rides post to 
BEGGAR'S BUSH, and then takes more 
pains to spend money than day-labourers 
to get it. [N.] 

1868. BREWER, Dictionary of Phrase 
and Fable, p. 78. BEGGAR'S BUSH. To 
BEGGAR'S BUSH, i.e., to go to ruin. BEG- 
GAR'S BUSH is the name of a tree which 
once stood on the left hand of the London 
road from Huntingdon to Caxton, so 
called because it was a noted rendezvous 
for beggars. These punning phrases 
and proverbs are very common. 

Russell Hill, near Croydon, 
where the Warehousemen's and 
Clerks' Schools are, is locally 
known as BEGGAR'S BUSH. 

BEGGAR-S PLUSH, subs, (old) ? 
Corduroy. See quotation. 

1688. London Gazette, No. 2379, 
page 4. A person . . . in a dark grey 
Cloth Coat . . . Breeches of BEGGAR'S 

BEGGAR'S VELVET, subs, (common). 
Downy particles which accu- 
mulate under furniture from 
the negligence of housemaids. 
Otherwise called SLUTS'-WOOL 

BEGGAR THE THING ! intj. (com- 
mon). Equivalent to 'con- 
found ' or ' hang the thing ' 
used to give additional emphasis 
to a word or action. 

BEGIN UPON [A PERSON], verb (com- 
mon). To attack ; to assault. 

BEGOSH ! B-GOSH ! intj. (American). 
An expletive, probably of 
negro origin ; a half veiled oath ; 
a corruption of ' By God ! ' See 

1888. The Epoch, May 5. Art dealer 
(descanting on the virtues of the picture). 
' You will observe, sir, that the drawing is 
free, that ' Agriculturist. ' Well, if the 
drawin's free an' you don't tax me too 
much for the frame B'GOSH I'll take it.' 

BEHIND, subs, (common). i. The 
posterior ; the rump. 

c. 1830. George IV., in Saturday 
Review (1862), 8 Feb. Go and do my 
bidding tell him he lies, and kick his 
BEHIND in my name. [M.] 

2. (Eton and Winchester 
Colleges.) A back at football. 
At Eton called SHORT BE- 
HIND and LONG BEHIND, usual- 
ly abbreviated to ' short ' and 
1 long.' At Winchester, SECOND 
answer to the half-back and 
back of Association football. 
At Winchester, in the Fifteens, 
there is also a THIRD BEHIND. 

BEHIND ONE*S SIDE, adv. phr. 
(Winchester College). Said of 
a man when nearer the oppo- 
nent's goal than the player of 

Beilby's Ball. 



his team who last touched the 

BEILBVS BALL, subs. (old). An 
Old Bailey execution. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BEILBY'S BALL, 'he 
will dance at BEILBY'S BALL, where the 
sheriff pays [for] the musick: he will 
be hanged. Who Mr. Beilby was, or 
why that ceremony was so called remains 
with the quadrature of the circle, the 
discovery of the philosopher's stone, 
and diverse other desiderata yet undis- 

BEJAN, BAIJAIM, etc., subs. (Scotch 
University). A freshman ; a 
student of the first year at the 
Universities of St Andrew's and 
Aberdeen : it is now obsolete at 
Edinburgh. [From the French 
becjaune, yellow beak, in allusion 
to the color of the mandibles of 
young birds.] The term was 
adopted from the University of 
Paris ; but, signifying ' a novice ' 
it has been in more or less 
general use for nearly three 
hundred years. At Aberdeen, 
the second-class students are 
1 SEMI-BEJANS ' ; in the third 
' TERTIANS ' ; while those in the 
highest rank are ' MAGISTRANDS.' 
In the University of Vienna the 
freshman is called beanus, and 
in France ' footing money ' is 
bejaunia. For synonymous terms 
for freshmen and raw recruits, 

1611. COTGRAVE. Bejaune, a novice 
. . or young beginner, in a trade or art. 

1865. G. MACDONALD, Alec Forbes, 
ch. xxxiv. The benches were occupied 
by about two hundred students, most of 
the freshmen or BEJANS in their red 

1887. * Standard, Feb. 10, p. 5, col. 2. 
The term BAIJAN, used in one of the 
Scottish universities to designate a 
freshman, is from the French bee 
jaitnc, yellow beak young birds having 
usually bills of this hue. 

BELCH, subs, (common). Beer, 
especially poor beer. So called 
because of its liability to cause 
eructation. The term is prob- 
ably much older than indi- 
cated by quotations. One of 
Shakspeare's characters in 
Twelfth Night is Sir Toby Belch, 
a reckless, roystering, jolly 
knight of the Elizabethan 
period. For synonyms, see 

1698. WARD, London Spy, pt. XV., 
p. 347. Those Poor Sots who are gussling 
BELCH at his own Ale-house. 

1705. WARD, Hudibras Redivivus, 
vol. I., pt. VII., p. 18. 
I sneak'd into a little house, 
Where porters do their BELCH carouse. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BELCH (s.), common beer or ale sold in 
publick houses is so called. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BELCH, all sorts of beer, 
that liquor being apt to cause eructation. 

1858. A. MAYHEW, Paved with Gold, 
bk. III., ch. iii., p. 265. 'Let's have 
a pot of that fourpenny English Bur- 
gundy of yours, and, whilst my mates 
are drinking the BELCH, I want to talk 
business with you.' 

BELCHER, subs, (pugilistic). A 
neckerchief named after Jim 
Belcher, a noted pugilist. The 
ground is blue, with white spots. 
Also, attributatively, to any 
handkerchief of a similar pat- 
tern. For synonyms, see FOGLE. 

1812. Examiner, 21 Sept., 607, i. 
The traverser . . . tied a BELCHER hand- 
kerchief round his neck. 

18(?). DICKENS, The Ghost of Art, 
in Reprinted Pieces, p. 215. I saw that 
the lower part of his face was tied up, 
in what is commonly called a BELCHER 

1874. Macmillan's Magazine, April, 
p. 506. The spotted blue and white 
neckerchief, still called a BELCHER, bears 
the name of a famous prize fighter. 

2. (thieves'.) A ring. Des- 
cribed in quotation. 




1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, I., p. 399. The best sort of 
rings for fewney dropping is the BEL- 
CHERS. They are a good thick looking 
ring, and have the crown and V.R. 
stamped upon them. 

3. (circus and showmen.) 
A drinker of beer ; generally a 
hard drinker. Cf., BELCH. 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and Adventure^ 
of a Cheap Jack, p. 99. Now it is well 
known that travelling mummers are all 
rare BELCHERS ... I kept them in 
conversation . . . until the drink took 
the desired effect, and one by one the 
princes and kings dropped on the grass 
floor, and were sound drunk and asleep. 

BELIAL, subs. (Oxford University). 
A nickname of Balliol College. 

(common). This phrase is fre- 
quently employed to signify 
general assent; 'yes.' Some- 
times colloquially ' I BELIEVE 
YOU MY BOY ' ; once a favourite 
catch-phrase of a well-known 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, p. 
286. ' Now confess : were you not a little 
surprised ? ' ' I BELIEVE YOU,' replied 
that illustrious person. 

1849-50. THACKERAY, Pendennis, I., 
p. 140. ' Miss Rouney, I gather, was the 
confidante of the other.' ' Confidant ? 


1860. GEORGE ELIOT, The Mill on 
the Floss, p. 199. ' Is she a cross woman ? ' 


Millionaire of Mincing Lane, p. 204. 
' And she hates that fellow ? ' ' Hates 

BELL, subs, (vagrants'). A song. 
Tramps' term. Simply diminu- 
tive of BELLOW. Rotten. 

Verb (schoolboy) . To BELL a 
marble is to run away with it, 
but the action scarcely amounts 
to actual theft. 

phr. (American). A variation 

of ' to blow one's trumpet ' ; to 
sound one's praises personally. 

BELL- BASTARD, subs, (provincial 
slang). In the West of Eng- 
land the illegitimate child of a 
woman who is herself illegiti- 
mate ; why and wherefore is 
obscure, though possibly a cor- 
ruption of ' double bastard. 1 

BELLMARE, subs. (American). A 
political leader, mostly used 
contemptuously. The term is 
a slang appropriation from the 
terminology of Western life, 
where it seems to be used in 
regard to mules much in the 
same way as bell-wether is 
employed in England in refer- 
ence to sheep. Why the grey 
mare, says the author of A Ride 
with Kit Carson, should be the 
better horse in the estimation of 
mules I cannot say, but such is 
certainly the fact. Though very 
cautious animals when relying 
solely on their own judgment, 
they would appear to have a 
consciousness of their own in- 
feriority, which induces them 
to entertain a great regard for 
the sagacity of the horse, and 
especially for that of a white 
mare. The wily Californians, 
taking advantage of this amiable 
weakness, employ a steady, old, 
white mare of known gentleness 
and good character, to act as a 
kind of mother and guide to 
each drove of unruly mules. 

BELLOWS, subs, (popular). The 
lungs. This, etymologically, is 
the same as ' belly,' both words 
having passed through a most 
complicated history. Properly 
speaking a bellows is an instru- 
ment constructed to produce a 
strong current of air, and the 


Bells go Single ! 

word itself can be traced back 
to about A.D. 800. Its figura- 
tive and slang signification is 
recorded as follows : 

1615. LATHAM, Falconry (1633), 115. 
The lungs doe draw a breath . . . When 
these BELLOWES doe decay, then health 
from both doth fade away. [M.] 

1730. JAS. MILLER, Humours of Ox- 
ford, Act v., Sc. 2., p. 75 (2 ed.). Heark 
you, madam, don't abuse my wife slut 
quotha 1 i'gad let me tell you, she has 
done a cleaner thing than you'll ever do 
while your BELLOWS blow, old lady. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 3. 
A plague on those malty cove fellows, 

Who'd have us in spirits relax ; 
Drink, they say, and you'll ne'er burn 


Half water instead of all max ; 
A glass of good max, had they twigg'd it, 
Would have made them, like us, lads 

of wax ; 
For Sal swigg'd, and Dick swigg'd, 

And Bob swigg'd, and Nick swigg'd, 
And I've swigged, and we've all of us 

swigg'd it, 
And, by Jingo, there's nothing like max. 

All Max ! 
By Jingo, there's nothing like max ! 

1843. HALIBURTON ('Sam Slick'), 
Sam Slick in England, ch. xxii. He [the 
servant] is so fat and lazy . . . walkin' 
put him out o" breath .... How I 
would like to lick him . . . round the 
park ... to improve his wind, and 
teach him how to mend his pace. I'd 
repair his old BELLOWSES for him, I 

Though regarded as slang in 
England, the word is collo- 
quially used in many parts of 
America, in the duplicated 
plural form BELLOWSES. 

1848. J. R. LOWELL, in Biglow 
Papers, I., p. 23. His BELLOWSES is 
sound enough. 

BELLOWSED, ppl. adj. (old). Trans- 
ported ; lagged. Cf., BELLOW- 
SER, sense 2. 

BELLOWSER, subs, (pugilistic). i. 
A blow in the pit of the stomach, 
or wind one that takes the 
breath away. 

2 . (old . ) A sentence of trans- 
portation for life. 

1856. Novels and Talcs (from House- 
hold Words), Tauch. ed. vi., p. 187. A 
sigh of the kind which is called by the 
lower classes a BELLOWSER. 

BELLOWS TO Mcno.phr. (common). 
It is said of a broken-winded 
horse that it has BELLOWS TO 
MEND ; likewise of a man whose 
lungs are affected, or one who 
from any cause is ' out of 

1856. CUTHBERT BEDE, Verdant 
Green, pt. II., ch. iv. To one gentleman 
he would pleasantly observe, as he 
tapped him on the chest, ' BELLOWS TO 
MEND for you, my buck! ' 

BELL-ROPE, subs, (common). The 
same as AGGERAWATORS (q.v.). 

1868. BREWER, Phrase and Fable, 
s.v., ' Love lock.' When men indulge in 
a curl in front of their ears, the love- 
lock is called a BELL-ROPE i.e., a rope to 
pull the belles after them. 

BELLS DOWN ! intj. (Winchester Col- 
lege). See quotation and BELLS 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 62. The junior in 
chamber had a hard time of it ; ... 
while endeavouring to get through his 
multifarious duties, he had to keep a 
sharp ear on the performance of the 
chapel bell, and to call out accordingly 
1 first peal ! ' ' second peal ! ' and BELLS 


BELLS GO SINGLE ! intj. (Winchester 
College). A single bell is rung 
for five minutes before the hour 
at which chapel commences. 
For College evening chapel 
three three's are rung, and then 
follows a 'bell,' one for every 
man in College 70. 

1878. ADAMS, Wykehamica, p. 256. 
At a quarter to six the peal again rang 
out, and the cry of BELLS GO was 
sounded in shrill tones through every 
chamber of College and Commoners. 




. . . After ten minutes the peal changed, 
and only a single bell continued to ring. 
This was notified by the cry BELLS GO 
SINGLE, and five minutes afterwards, by 
that of ' bells down.' . . . Presently the 
head-master . . . would descend from 
his library : or the second master . . . 
would appear at the archway near 
Sixth Chamber, and the warning voice 
would be heard ' Gabell ' or ' Williams 
through,' ' Williams,' or ' Ridding in.' 
Straightway there would be a general 
rush, the college-boys darting across the 
quadrangle in the rear of the Praefect of 
Chapel; while the Commoners hurried in, 
keeping up a continuous stream from 
their more distant quarters. 


adj. (harlotry). Said of a man 
whose penis is considerably 
thicker at the top end than at 
the root or middle. 

BELL-TOPPER, subs, (popular). A 
silk hat. [From BELL, alluding 
to the shape, + TOP, from its 
position when worn, in relation 
to the rest of the body -f ER.] 
For synonyms, see GOLGOTHA. 

1885. G. A . S ALA, in Daily Telegraph, 
Aug. 5, p. 5, col. 4. His very BELL- 
TOPPER hat had been garlanded with 

phr. (American). To ride down 
a hill in a sled lying on one's 
stomach, an amusement con- 
fined, it hardly needs saying, to 
young America. The idea of 
toboganning was derived from 
this boyish pastime, and the 
oaken board has been succeeded 
by the fleet- winged toboggan, 
made of seasoned maple with 
handsomely upholstered seats. 
With the advent of improved 
ice vehicles the interest in 
these sports has increased, 
and instead of being confined 
to the vulgar boys who used to 
ride down hill BELLY-BUSTER 
fashion, men and even the 
most fashionable women now 
partake of this pleasant and 
invigorating pastime. Also 
belly - bumbo, belly - guts, or 
gutter, belly -flounders, belly- 
flumps, and belly-plumper. 

1888. Chicago Inter-Ocean. Barney 
has a sled, on which he hauls the fish 
in snowy weather. Barney had his sled 
out yesterday, BELLY-BUMPING on a 
little patch of ice and snow. 

BELLY-BUTTON, subs. (American). 
The navel. 

BELLY-ACHE, subs. (vulgar). A 
pain in the bowels ; a colic. 

1881. New York Times, Dec. 18, 
quoted in N. and Q., 6 S., v., 65. BELLY- 
ACHE. To grumble without good cause. 
Employes BELLYACHE at being over- 
worked, or when they fancy themselves 
underfed, etc. 

BELLY-BENDER, stibs. (American). 
A boy's term for weak and un- 
safe ice. 

BELLY-BOUND, adj. (vulgar). Con- 
stipated ; costive. 



B E LLY-CA N (political) . Explained 
by quotation. 

1889. Pall Mall Gazette, Mar. 28. 
Whatever ultimately comes of the 
Sunday Closing movement, it will at any 
rate leave behind it a curious addition 
to the English language. This is the 
word ' BELLY-CAN,' which is (according 
to the opponents of Sunday Closing) 
the plebeian counterpart of the more 
genteel 'small cask' both things 
being, of course, contrivances for getting 
round the legal prohibition of Sunday 
drinking. Lexicographers may perhaps 
be glad to have the definitions of the 
two phrases as given yesterday afternoon 
by Mr. Cavendisn Bentinck : The 
' BELLY-CAN ' was a tin vessel not unlike 
a saddle in shape, which men and 
women, generally the latter let hon. 
members note that got filled with beer 



and secreted about their clothes, an 
averaged-sized can holding about four 
quarts. A more aristocratic method of 
private Sunday drinking was by means 
of the ' small cask." The small cask 
industry was said to be an exceedingly 
prosperous one in certain districts. 
Grocers advertised for casks as a 
speciality, and one grocer advertised on 
a Saturday fifty and sixty and sometimes 
even 100 empty casks. 

(old). An apron ; also food. 
[From BELLY + slang CHEAT, 
a thing ; from Anglo-Saxon ceat, 
a thing.] 

1609. DEKKER, Lanthornc and Candle- 
light, Wks. (l88 5 ) III., I 9 6. A BELLY- 
CHETE, an apron. 

1622. FLETCHER, Beggar's Bush, II., 
i. Each man shall eat his own stol'n 
eggs and shall possess what he can pur- 
chase back or BELLY-CHEATS. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicuin. BELLY- 
CHEAT, an apron. 

subs, (old). Food. This term 
is of considerable antiquity, as 
also is BELLY-CHEERING for eat- 
ing and drinking. For syno- 
nyms, see GRUB. 

1559. Eliotes Dictionarie. Abdomini 
indulgere, to geve hym selfe to BEALY- 

1612. ROWLANDS, Knaves of Spades, 
etc. Gluttonie mounted on a greedie 
beare, To BELLY-CHEERE and banquets 
lends his care. 

1699. COLES, English Dictionary. 
BELLY-CHEER, Cibaria. 


BELLY-FULL, subs. (old). i. A 
sound drubbing ; a thrashing. 

1599. NASHE, Lenten Stuffe, in wks. 
V., 265. The churlish frampild waues 
gaue him his BELLY-FULL of fish broath. 

1605. CHAPMAN, All Fooles, Act ii. 
p. 58 (Plays, 1874). Walk not too boldly ; 

if the Serjeants meet you, you may have 
swaggering work your BELLY-FULL. 

1666. PEPYS, Diary, Oct. 28. He 
says that in the July fight, both the 
Prince and Holmes had their BELLY- 
FULLS, and were fain to go aside. 

1835. HALIBURTON, Clockmaker, 
3 S., ch. xvi. Bunker's Hill, where, 
Mr. Slick observed, 'the British first 
got a taste of what they afterwards got, a 


2. A woman with child was 
also formerly said to have her 


BELLY-FURNITURE, subs. (old). 
Food; something wherewith to 
furnish the belly. Cf., BELLY- 

1653. URQUHART, Rabelais, bk. I., 
ch. v. (Bohn's), i., no. Then did they 
fall upon the victuals, and some BELLY- 
FURNITURE to be snatched at in the 
very same p lace. 

BELLY-GO- FIRSTER, subs. (pugil- 
istic) . An initial blow, generally 
given, say some authorities, in 
the stomach whence its classic 
name ! 

BELLY-GUT, subs. (old). A lazy, 
greedy fellow. 

1540. MORYSINE, transl., Vives' Introd. 
Wisd. t viij. Such as be skoffers, swell 
feastes . . . BELY GUTS. [M.] 

1733. BAILEY, Erasmus, p. 346. Since 
then thou would'st not have a BELLY-GUT 
for thy servant, but rather one brisk and 
agile, why then dost thou provide for thy- 
self a minister fat and unwieldy ? 

BELLY- GUTS, subs. (American 
schoolboys'). i. In Pennsyl- 
vania, molasses candy. 
2. (American.) Equivalent to 


BELLY-HEDGES, subs. (Shrewsbury 
School). In school steeple- 
chases, obstructions of such a 
height that they can easily be 
cleared i.e., about ' belly-high.' 


J 74 Belly -Vengeance. 

BELLY-PIECE, subs. (old). I. An 
apron. Cf., BELLY-CHEAT. 

1689. SHADWELL, Bury Fair. If 
thou shoulds cry, it would make streaks 
down thy face; as the tears of the 
tankard do upon my fat host's BELLY- 

2. A mistress ; a concubine ; 
a whore. 

1630. RANDOLPH, Jealous Lovers. 
A sot : Come, blush not, bashfull BELLY- 
PIECE I will meet thee: I ever keep my 
word with a fair lady. I will requite that 
Jewell with a richer. 

BELLY PLEA, subs. (old). A plea of 
pregnancy, generally adduced 
by female felons capitally con- 
victed. This they took care to 
provide for, previous to trial ; 
every gaol had, as the Beggars' 
Opera informs us, one or more 
child-getters, who qualified the 
ladies for that expedient. The 
plea still holds good, execution 
of female convicts in ' an inter- 
esting condition ' being deferred 
until after accouchement. In 
practice, it really means a com- 
mutation of the death penalty 
for life imprisonment. All 
chances, however, of becoming 
enceinte after arrest are sedu- 
lously guarded against by the 
rules of modern prison life. 

BELLY -PLUM PER, subs. (American). 

BELLY-TIMBER, subs. (old). Food; 
provisions of all kinds. [From 
BELLY + TIMBER.] This, like 
many other words of its class 
(e.g., BACK-TIMBER, q.v.), was 
once in serious use, but for a 
long period it has been going 
down hill, and it is now a 
thorough-going vulgarism, only 
surviving dialectically, and as 
slang. Massinger and the older 

dramatists employed it seriously; 
toward the end of the seven- 
teenth century it began to be 
used in a ludicrous and vul- 
gar sense. Butler employs it 
thus, and in Charles Cotton's 
Scarronides (1678), the hero we 
are told 

Lay thinking now his guts grew limber, 
How they might get more BELLY- 

For synonyms generally, see 

1614. Terence in English, Annona 
cara est. Corne is at a high price; 
victuals are deare; BELLY-TIMBER is 
hard to come by. 

1637. MASSINGER, Guardian, III., iii. 
A dor. Haste you unto my villa, and 
take all provisions along with you . . . 
Car. Trust me for BELLY-TIMBER. 

1663-78. S. BUTLER, Hudibras. 

Through deserts vast, 
And regions desolate they pass'd, 
Where BELLY-TIMBER, above ground 
Or under, was not to be found. 

1719. Poor Robin's Almanack, Feb. 
On the loth day of this month, being 
Shrove-Tuesday, is like to be a great 
innundation of BELLY-TIMBER. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (s ed.). 
BELLY-TIMBER (s.), all sorts of food. 

1820. SCOTT, Monastery, ch. xv. 
4 Yonder comes the monkish retinue 
... I hope a'gad, they have not for- 
gotten my trunk-mails of apparel amid 
the ample provision they have made for 
their own BELLY-TIMBER ' 

BELLY-UP, adv.phr. (old). Applied 
to women when enceinte. From 
the protrusion of the abdo- 
men which takes place under 
such circumstances. See 

BELLY - VENGEANCE, subs, (com- 
mon). Sour beer, apt to cause 
gastralgia. The French call 
this pissin de cheval, i.e., ' horse 
urine.' For synonyms, see 



BELTINKER, subs, and verb (com- 
mon). A beating; a drubbing. 
To thrash ; to beat soundly. 
For synonyms, see TAN. 

BEMUSED, ppl. adj. (common). 
Fuddled ; as in the stupid stage 
of drunkenness. [From BE + 
MUSE + ED, originally to be sunk 
in reverie, or contemplation.] 
The expression as generally 
used now is BEMUSED WITH 
BEER. This phrase, originally 
used by Pope, was given a new 
impetus by G. A. Sala (in Gas- 
light and Daylight}. In America, 
especially, it caught the popular 
fancy and ran a brief but riotous 
course throughout the Union to 
signify one who addicted himself 
to ' soaking ' with beer. The 
transatlantic usage naturally re- 
acted upon the Mother Country, 
and from being occasionally em- 
ployed it became much more 
popular, and was heard on all 
sides a striking instance of 
' fashion in words.' 

1735. POPE, Pro!. Sat., 15. A parson 
much BE-MUS'D in beer. 

1854. WHYTE MELVILLE, General 
Bounce, ch. viii. A fat little man, primed 
with port, but who, when not thus BE- 
MUSED, is an influential member of his 

1883. R. L. STEVENSON, The Trea- 
sure of Franchard, ch. iv., in Longman's 
Mag., April, p. 694. So while the Doctor 
made himself drunk with words, the 
adopted stable-boy BEMUSED himself 
with silence. 

For synonyms generally, see 

BEN, subs, (theatrical). i. A 
benefit; a performance of which 
the receipts, after paying ex- 
penses, are devoted to one 
person's special use or benefit. 

1872. Miss BRADDON, Dead Sea 
Fruit, I., 190. ' I have played clown 

BELONGINGS, subs, (colloquial). I. 
Qualities ; endowments ; facul- 

2. Relations ; one's kindred. 

3. One's effects ; or posses- 
sions. In sense i BELONGINGS 
has long been an accepted word ; 
senses 2 and 3 are given by 
Annandale as ' colloquial and 

1852. DICKENS, Bleak House. I 
have been trouble enough to my BELONG- 
INGS in my day. 

1866. Saturday Review, 24 Feb., p. 
244, col. 2. The rich uncle whose mis- 
sion is to bring prosperity to his BELONG- 
INGS. [M.] 

4. (American.) Used by 
the prudishly inclined for 
trousers. See BAGS. 

BELOW THE BELT, adv. phr. (popu- 
lar). To strike a man BELOW 
THE BELT is to hit him unfairly, 
a term derived from the pugilis- 
tic arena. Hence, underhand 
dealing, and the taking of mean 
advantage generally. It is akin 
with ' To stab a man in the 

BELSWAGGER, subs. (old). I. A 
lewd man ; a whoremaster ; a 
pimp. [ Thought to be a 
contracted form of BELLY + 
SWAGGER, i.e., a man given up 
to bodily pleasure. Ash has 
both forms.] 

1775. ASH, Dictionary. BELSWAGGER, 
a whoremaster. 

2. A bully; a hectoring 
fellow. This is the older, but 
least important usage. 

1592. GREENE, Defence of Coney- 
Catching. . . . the BELSWAGGERS of the 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BELLSWAGGER, a noisy, 
bullying fellow. 




for my BEN,' murmured the great Dr. 

1880. G. R. SIMS, Ballads of Baby- 
lon (Forgotten). You saw me as Hamlet, 
Charley, the night that I had my BEN. 

2. (old cant.) A fool. 
Grose. See BENISH. 

3. (common.) A shortened 
form of BENJAMIN (q.v.), a 
coat; also of BENJY (q.v.), a 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 252. Being at 
Hailsham, a small market town in Sus- 
sex, about the year 1846, I attended the 
club feast, which was held on the com- 
mon. At that time we used to buy men's 
waistcoats of Michael Riley, of Man- 
chester, at 5 per gross, and sell them 
at is. 6d., is. 3d., and the lowest price at 
a shilling each. I had a bale containing 
twelve dozen arrive that morning, they 
were red ones ; and in offering these 
BENS, the plan was to put them on to 
show how well they fitted. 

To STAND BEN (popular). 
To stand treat. 


BENBOUSE, sw&s. (old cant). Good 
beer. [From the Latin bene = 
good + BOUSE or BOOZE.] 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1869), p. 85. 
The vpright cofe canteth to the Roge : ' I 
saye by the Salomon I will lag'e it of 
with a gage of BENEBOUSE ; then cut to 
my nose watch.' [' I sweare by the masse, 
I wull washe it of with a quart of good 
drynke ; then saye to me what thou wylt.'] 

1622. JOHN FLETCHER, Beggar's 

I crown thy nab with a gag of BENBOUSE, 
And stall thee by the salmon intoclowes, 
To maund on the pad and strike all the 


To mill from the Ruffmans, and com- 
mission and slates. 
Twang dell's, i' the stiromel, and let the 

quire cuffin 

And Herman Beck strine and trine to 
the Ruffin! 


I poure on thy pate a pot ot good ale, 
And by the Rogue's oath, a Rogue the 

To beg on the way and rob all thou 

To steal from the hedge both the shirt 

and the sheets, 
And lie with thy wench in the straw till 

she twang, 
Let the Constable, Justice, and Devil 

go hang ! 

BENCHER, subs. (old). A frequenter 
of taverns ; one who hulks 
about public houses ; perhaps 
with an allusion to the Benchers 
of the Inns of Court. 

BEN CULL or COVE, subs, (thieves'). 
A friend ; a ' pall ' ; a com- 
panion. [From old cant BENE 
or BEN, good + CULL, a man.] 
For synonyms, see COVE. 

BEND, verb (Scotch). To tipple; 
to drink hard. Jamieson, the 
first lexicographer to draw 
attention to the word in its 
slang sense, illustrates his ex- 
ample by quotations from Alan 
Ramsay. Murray suggests that 
it is derived from that sense of 
TO BEND, signifying ' to pull, 1 
' to strain,' ' to apply oneself. 1 

1758. A. RAMSAY, Poems (1800), I., 
215. Brawtippony . . . which we 
with greed BENDED, as fast as she could 
brew. Ibid, ii., 73. To BEND wi' ye, and 
spend wi' ye, an evening, and gaffaw. 
[1860. RAMSAY, Remin., Ser. i (ed. 7), 47. 
BEND weel to the Madeira at dinner, for 
here ye'll get little o't after.] 

ABOVE ONE'S BEND, phr. (com- 
mon). Above one's ability, 
power or capacity ; or out of 
one' s reach . Probably a corrup- 
tion of ' above one's bent.' 
Shakspeare puts the expression 
in the mouth of Hamlet, ' to 
the top of my bent ' (in., 2). In 
the Southern States [U.S.A.], 
its place is generally taken by 


An English equivalent is ' above 
one's hook.' 




1848. J. F. COOPER, The Oak 
Openings. It would be ABOVE MY BEND 
to attempt telling you all we saw among 
the red skins. 

GRECIAN BEND (popular). 
A craze amongst women which 
had a vogue from about 1872 to 
1880. It consisted in walking 
with the body bent forward. 

1876. Chambers' Journal, No. 629. 
Your own advocacy for the GRECIAN 
BEND and the Alexandra limp both 
positive and practical imitations of 
physical affliction. 

ON THE BEND, phr. (common). 
In an underhand, oblique, or 
crooked way not ' on the 

1863. J. C. JEAFFRESON, Live It 
Down, II., 152. I never have paid any- 
thing yet on the square, and I never will. 
When I die, I'll order my executor to 
buy my coffin off the square. He shall 
get it ON THE BEND somehow or other. 

BENDER, subs, (popular). i. A six- 
pence. Thought to be an 
allusion to the ease with which 
these coins were liable to be 
bent in use. At one time the 
currency was not of such good 
quality as now. 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 
p. 178. Sixpence. A BENDER. 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. xlii., 
p. 367. ' Will you take three bob ? ' 
'And a BENDER,' suggested the clerical 
gentleman. . . . 'What do you say, 
now ? We'll pay you out for three-and- 
sixpence a week. Come ! ' 

1869. WHYTE MELVILLE, M. or N., 
p. 66. A ragged boy established, at the 
crossing, who had indeed rendered him- 
self conspicuous by his endeavours to 
ferry Puckers over dry-shod, was ac- 
costed by a shabby-genteel and remark- 
ably good-looking man, in the following 
vernacular ' On this minnit, off at six, 
Buster ; two bob an' a BENDER, and a 
three of eye-water, in ? ' ' Done for 
another joey,' replied Buster, with the 
premature acuteness of youth foraging 
for itself in the streets of London. 

Among synonymous terms for 
this coin may be mentioned 
cripple ; bandy ; crookback ; 
downer ; fyebuck ; lord of the 
manor ; tanner ; sprat ; kick ; 
half a borde ; tizzy. 

2. (Scotch.) A hard and 
persistent drinker ; a tippler. 
This should be compared with 

1728. RAMSAY, Poems (1848), III., 
162. Now lend your Jugs, ye BENDERS 
fine, wha ken the benefit of wine. 

1810. TANNAHILL, Poems (1846), 53. 
Or BENDERS, blest your wizzens weetin'. 

3. (public schools'.) In pub- 
lic school phraseology a BENDER 
is a stroke of the cane adminis- 
tered by the master while the 
culprit bends down his back. 

4. (common.) The arm. In 
connection with this see the 
following, and for synonyms, see 

5. (American.) A drinking 
bout or spree, in the course of 
which, to use another slang ex- 
pression, ' the town is painted 
red,' and the participants de- 
cidedly unbent. This is possi- 
bly derived from any one of the 
three following sources: (i) 
from the Scotch usage; (2) 
from the facetious name given 
to the arm, which becomes a 
BENDER from being so fre- 
quently bent or ' crooked ' to 
lift the glass to the mouth ; (3) 
from the Dutch bende, an assem- 
bly, party, or band. 

1854. Putnam's Monthly, Aug. 
I met her at the Chinese room ; 

She wore a wreath of roses, 
She walked in beauty like the night, 

Her breath was like sweet posies. 
I led her through the festal hall, 

Her glance was soft and tender ; 
She whispered gently in my ear, 

' Say, Mose, ain't this a BENDER ? 

1864. Richmond Dispatch, 3 Jan. 
' Most of the owners of these names had 



Bene y Ben. 

been tempted by the festivities of the 
day to go on a regular BENDER, and had 
to pay the penalty for their New Year's 
frolic by appearing this morning in the 

1888. Detroit Free Press, 4 Aug. He 
was a character noted for going on fre- 
quent BENDERS until he came very near 
having the jimjams and then sobering 

6. (American.) A euphemism 
employed by the squeamishly 
inclined for the leg. A similar 
piece of prudishness is displayed 
in an analogous use of 'limb.' 
With a notorious mock-modesty 
American women decline to call 
a leg a leg; they call it a limb 
instead. This tendency is the 
more remarkable when the 
great freedom extended to 
American girls and women is 
borne in mind ; unless, indeed, 
it arises from guilty knowledge. 
White, who, perhaps, was rather 
given to excessive incisiveness 
of speech, remarked that per- 
haps such persons think that it 
is indelicate for women to have 
legs, and that therefore they 
are concealed by garments, and 
should be concealed in speech. 
Professor Geikie, during one of 
his Canadian tours, also found 
out that both sexes had limbs of 
some sort ; the difficulty was to 
discover whether they were used 
to stand on or to hold by. 
Sensible people everywhere, 
however, have little part in 
such prudery. 

1849. LONGFELLOW, Kavanagh. 
Young ladies are not allowed to cross 
their BENDERS in school. 

7. (schoolboys'.) The bow- 
shaped segment of a paper kite. 

1873. DR. BLACKLEY, Hay Fever, 
p. 145. The first kite was six feet in 
length by three feet in width, and was 
made of the usual form, namely, with a 
central shaft or 'standard,' and a semi- 
circular top Or BENDER. 

OVER THE BENDER, phr. (com- 
mon) . A variant of 'over the left 
shoulder ' ; the connection be- 
tween BENDER, a slang term for 
the arm, and the shoulder is 
sufficiently apparent. There are 
many analogous expressions, 
which see under OVER THE 

Intj. An exclamation of in- 
credulity; also used as a kind 
of saving clause to a promise 
which the speaker does not 
intend to carry into effect. 
Probably an abbreviated form of 


BENDIGO, subs, (common). A 
rough fur cap named after a 
notorious pugilist. 

BEND OVER, intj. (Winchester Col- 
lege). A direction to put one- 
self into position to receive a 
' spanking." This is done by 
bending over so that the tips 
of the ringers extend towards the 
toes, thus presenting a surface as 
tight as a drum on the part to 
be castigated. 

BENE, BEN, adj. (old cant). Good. 
This belongs to the most ancient 
English cant, and is probably 
a corruption from the Latin. 
BENAR and BENAT appear to 
have been used as comparatives 
of BENE. (See quots.) 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1869), p. 86. 
What, stowe your BENE, cofe, and sut 
BENAT whydds, and byng we to rome 
vyle to nyp a bong. [i.e. What, hold 
your peace good fellow and speak better 
words, and let us go to London to cut, or 
steal a purse.] 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 37 (H. Club's Repr., 1874). BEN, good. 

THOMAS DEKKER, The Roaring Girl or 
Moll Cut Purse. 

A gage of BEN Rom-bouse, 
In a bousing ken of Rom-vile 




Is BENAR than a Caster, Peck, pennam, 

Or popler. 


A quart pot of good wine 
In a drinking house of London 
Is better than a cloak, meat, bread, 

butter milk (?) or porridge. 

1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. ii, list of cant words in. BIEN, good. 

1858. A. MAYHEW, Paved with Gold, 
bk. III., ch. iii., p. 265. ' I've brought a 
couple of BENE coves, with lots of the 
Queen's pictures in their sacks ' 
[pockets] . 

Subs, (old cant). ' Stowe your 
BENE,' i.e., ' hold your tongue.' 
See quotation above from Har- 
man's Caveat. 


BENE DARKMANS ! intj. (old cant). 
Good night ! French thieves 
say sorgabon, an inversion of 
bonne sorgue. 

BENEDICK, subs, (familiar). I. A 
sportive name for a newly- 
married man; especially one 
who has long been a bachelor. 
Apparently, however, there is 
some confusion in the usage 
(see sense 2). The name 
was derived from Shakspeare's 
character in Mitch Ado About 

1599. SHAKSPEARE, Much Ado 
About Nothing, v., 4, 100. Don Pedro. 
How dost thou, BENEDICK, the married 
man ? 

1805. REV. J. MARRIOTT, in C. K. 
Sharpe's Correspondence (1888), I., 239. 
From what I have seen of his lordship, 
both as a bachelor and as a BENEDICK. 

2. A bachelor. C/., fore- 

1843. Life in the West. He is no 
longer a BENEDIC, but a quiet married 

1856. C. BRONTE, Professor, ch. xxiv. 
' Are you married, Mr. Hunsden ? ' asked 
Frances, suddenly. 

' No. I should have thought you 
might have guessed I was a BENEDICK 
by my look.' 

BENE FEAKERS, subs. (cant). Coun- 
terfeiters of bills. Grose. 

phr. (cant). Counterfeiters of 
passes. Grose. 

BENE or BIEN MORT, subs, (old 
cant). A fine woman ; a pretty 
girl ; a hostess. [From BENE, 
old cant for ' good,' + MORT, a 
canting term for a woman.] 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat, p. 85 (ed. 
1869). A BENE MORT hereby at the sign 
of the prauncer. [i.e., The Horse.] 

1671. RICHARD HEAD, The English 
Bing out, BIEN MORTS, and ture and 


Bing out, BIEN MORTS, and toure ; 
For all your duds are bing'd awast, 
The bien cove hath the loure. 

Go forth, brave girls : look out, look 


Look out, I say, good maids, 
For all your clothes are stole, I doubt, 
And shar'd among the blades. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 
xvii. 'Tour out, 'said the one ruffian .to 
the other ; ' tour the BIEN MORT twiring 
at the gentry cove.' 

1823. SCOTT, Peveril of the Peak, 
ch.xxxvi. Why the BIEN MORTS will think 
you a chimney-sweeper on May-day. 

1881. New York Slang Dictionary. 
[See first stanza of canting song on 
page 80 ante.] 


1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1869), p. 86. 
The vpright man canteth to the Roge. 
Man! 'That is BENESHYPto our watche.' 
[That is very good for vs.] 

BENESHIPLY, adv. (old cant). 


1 80 


BEN-FLAKE, subs. (thieves'). A 

BENGAL TIGERS, subs, (military). 
The Seventeenth Foot ; so 
nicknamed from its badge of a 
royal tiger granted for services 
in India from 1804-1823. Also 
called ' The Lily-Whites ' from 
its facings. 

1874. Chambers' Journal, p. 801. 
The i7th . . . the BENGAL TIGERS, from 
their badge a tiger. 

BENGI, subs, (military). An onion. 

BENISH, adj. (old cant.) Foolish. 
See BEN, sense 2. 

BENJAMIN, subs. (Winchester 
College). i. A small ruler. 

2. (thieves'.) A coat. It is 
said to have been derived from 
a well-known London adver- 
tising tailor of the same name. 
Formerly this garment was 
called a JOSEPH, but for syno- 
nyms, see CAPELLA. An UPPER 
BENJAMIN a great coat. 

1815. T. PEACOCK, Nightmare A bbey, 
p. 159. His heart is seen to beat through 

1836. M. SCOTT, Tom Cringle's Log, 
ch. ii. BENJAMINS, and great-coats, and 
cloaks of all sorts and sizes. 

1851. G. BORROW, Lavengro, ch. lix., 
p. 181 (1888). The coachman . . . with 
narrow -rimmed hat and fashionable 

1865. Pall Mall Gazette, 7 March, 
p. 3, col. 2. [Quoting East-end slang.] 

BEN JOLT RAM, subs, (provincial). 
Brown bread and skimmed milk ; 
a Norfolk term for a ploughboy's 
breakfast. Hotten. 

BENJY, subs, (nautical). i. A 
low crowned straw hat having 
a very broad brim. 

1883. W. CLARK RUSSELL, Sailors' 
Language, p. 14. BENJIE, the name of 
a straw hat worn by sailors. 

2. (common.) A waistcoat. 
Also BEN (q.v.). For synonyms, 
see FAN. 

1821. D. HAGGART, Life, Glossary, 
p. 171. BENJY, a vest. 

BENS, subs. (American). A work- 
man's slang term for his tools. 
In England called ALLS. 

BENSHIP or BEENSHIP, subs, (old 
cant). Worship ; goodness. 
This word, evidently from BENE- 
SHIP (q.v.), is given by Bailey 
in his Dictionary [1728], and 
by Coles in 1724. 

Adv. (old cant). Very good. 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1814), p. 65. 
BENSHIP, very good. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 37 (H. Club's Repr.). BENSHIP, very 

1665. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. I., 
ch. v., p. 47 (1874). BENSHIPLY, very 

BEONG, subs, (thieves' and coster- 
mongers'). A shilling. [From 
Italian bianco, white ; also the 
name of a silver coin.] For full 
list of synonyms, see DEANER. 

BERAY, verb (old cant). To defile ; 
to befoul ; to abuse. 

BERKELEYS, subs, (common). A 
woman's breasts. [It may be 
noted that in the gypsy, berk, or 
burk breast; plural, berhiaJ] 
For synonyms, see DAIRIES. 

BERMUDAS, subs. (old). A district 
in London, similar to ALSATIA in 
Whitefriars (q.v.), and the Mint 
in Southward, privileged against 
arrests. The BERMUDAS are 
thought to have been certain 




narrow and obscure alleys and 
passages north of the Strand, 
near Covent Garden, and con- 
tiguous to Drury Lane ; see, 
however, the second quotation 
where the Mint would seem 
to be indicated. 

1616. JONSON, Devil's an Ass, II., i. 
Mcercraft. Engine, when did you see 
my cousin Everhill ? keeps he still your 
quarter in the BERMUDAS ? Eng, Yes, 
sir, he was writing this morning very 

Sheppard, p. 12. In short, every con- 
trivance that ingenuity could devise was 
resorted to by this horde of reprobates 
to secure themselves from danger or 
molestation. Whitefriars had lost its 
privileges; Salisbury Court and the 
Savoy no longer offered places of refuge 
to the debtor; and it was, therefore, 
doubly requisite that the ISLAND of the 
BERMUDA (as the Mint was termed by 
its occupants) should uphold its rights, 
as long as it was able to do so. 

As regards the derivation of 
the name, Nares suggests it in 
the actual practice, which ob- 
tained of debtors fleeing to the 
Bermuda Islands, when first dis- 
covered, to elude their creditors. 
This fact is alluded to in the 
following. Cf. , second quotation 
already given. 

1616. JONSON, Devil's an Ass, III., 3. 
There's an old debt of forty, I ga' my 
word. For one is run away to the 

BERTHAS, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
The nickname in the ' House ' and 
among brokers for the ordinary 
stock of the London, Brighton 
and South Coast Railway Com- 

1889. The Rialto, Mar. 23. The 
week opened very badly on the Stock 
Exchange, and two or three days of utter 
stagnation followed, but yesterday after- 
noon a revival took place, which was 
quite dramatic in its suddenness and 
vigour. Between two o'clock and the 
closing of the doors at four o'clock, ad- 
vances were made ranging from 2^ in 

BERTHAS to an average of x in Americans. 
Tintos climbed to i2j, and even Kaffirs 
raised their sickly heads. AH the little 
bulls went home happier than they have 
been for three weeks. 

BERWICKS.SM&S. (Stock Exchange). 
The ordinary stock of the 
North Eastern Railway. 

BESPEAK-NIGHT, subs, (theatrical). 
A benefit. See BEN. 


BESS-O'-BEDLAM, subs. (old). A 
lunatic vagrant. 

1821. SCOTT, Kcnilworth, ch. xxvi. 
1 Why, what BESS OF BEDLAM is this, 
would ask to see my lord on such a day 
as the present ? ' 

BEST. To BEST ONE, verb (com- 
mon). i. To obtain an advan- 
tage ; to secure a superior 
position in a contest or bargain. 
The meaning of TO BEST, there- 
fore, is really ' to worst." In 
this sense, not necessarily to 
cheat. See sense 2. 

1863. TRAFFORD, World in Ch., II., 
77. As I am a staunch Churchman I 
cannot stand quiet and see the Dissen- 
ters BEST the Establishment. [M.] 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Ad- 
ventures of a Cheap Jack, p. 69. Bob 
was a good salesman, but of bad temper, 
who if he could not get rid of any unruly 
fellow by his chaffing him, would in- 
variably turn to Perdue and say, ' Look 
at this man ; I shan't bother with him, 
why don't you get him away ? He's 
interrupting me and the business. I 
can't jolly him down, so you must settle 
and do away with him, or I must " dry 
up," for the fellow's BESTED me.' 

c. 1879. HAWLEY SMART, From Post to 
Finish, p. 92. His intimates were wont 
to say there was no trusting Cuddie 
Elliston, while, as for Sam Pearson, it 
was a current saying that ' No one had 
ever BESTED him.' Still, Yorkshire has 
a certain respect for this faculty; and 
though Pearson was regarded as a man 
who carried it rather far, and would 
have skinned his * own brother upon oc- 
casion, yet public opinion did not get 

B ester. 



much further regarding him than that 
' Lawyer Pearson knew his away about ; 
and you'd to get up main early in the 
morning to get a point the BEST of him.' 
1883. Graphic, Feb. 24, p. 191, col. i. 
So there are people who will not scruple 
TO BEST a railway company, who would 
be loth to wrong a private person. 

2. Sometimes, however, pass- 
ing the ill-defined border line 
between sharp practice and 
down-right roguery, TO BEST is 
an equivalent of to cheat ; to 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 234. His game 
was BESTING everybody, whether it was 
for pounds, shillings, or pence. At one 
time he cheated a poor farming man out 
of his milch cow in exchange for another. 
The man was in liquor at the time, and 
when he came to his senses he went right 
away to another part of the country, and 
his poor wife took it so to heart that she 
died shortly afterwards. 

1879. HORSLEY, in Macmillan's 
Magazine, Oct. When I went to the 
fence he BESTED (cheated) me because I 
was drunk, and only gave me 8 IDS. for 
the lot. So the next day I went to him 
and asked him if he was not going to 
grease my duke (put money into my 
hand). So he said, ' No.' Then he said, 
' I will give you another half-a-quid ' ; 
and said, ' Do anybody, but mind they 
don't do you.' So I thought to myself, 
' All right, my lad ; you will find me as 
good as my master,' and left him. 

1885. MAY, in Fortnightly Review, 
Oct., p. 578. The quack broker who piles 
up money by BESTING his clients. [M.] 

To GIVE ONE BEST (thieves'). 
To leave one ; to sever com- 

1879. HORSLEY, in Macmillan's Mag., 
Oct. While using one of those places 
[concerts], I first met a sparring bloke 
(pugilist), who taught me how to spar, 
and showed me the way to put my dukes 
up. But after a time I GAVE HIM BEST 
(left him) because he used to want to bite 
my ear (borrow) too often. 

BESTER.SJ^S. (common). Acheat; 
a swindler. See BEST, sense 2. 
Generally applied to a turf or 
gaming blackleg. 

1851. H. MAYHEW, Lon. Lab. and 
Lon. Poor, IV., 24. Those who cheat 
the Public . . . ' Bouncers and HESTERS' 
defrauding, by laying wagers, swagger- 
ing, or using threats. 

1885. Evening News, 21 September, 
4, i. The complainant called her father 
a liar, ' a BESTER and a crawler.' 

BESTING THE PISTOL, phr. (pedes- 
trian). To get away before the 
signal for starting is actually 
given. [From BESTING, gaining 
an advantage, + PISTOL, the 
firing of which is the signal to 
' Go ! '] 

1889. Polytechnic Magazine, July 7, 
p. 330. The third man from scratch was 
evidently in too great a hurry ; twice he 
tried to BEST THE PISTOL, and as often 
the whole start had to be made afresh. 

BET. You BET! intj. (American). 
You may depend on it ; you 
may be sure ; certainly ! be 
assured! Originally a Califor- 
nian phrase tacked on to an 
assertion to give it additional 
emphasis. So popular is the 
expression that it has been given 
as a name in the form of UBET 
to a town in the Canadian 
Northwest. Oftentimes it is 
amplified into 'you bet your 
boots, 1 ' life, 1 ' bottom dollar,' 
an d so on . The two former were 
used in New York and Boston 
as far back as 1840. 

c. 1882. STAVELY HILL, From Home 
to Home. We reached the settlement of 
Ubet. The name had been selected from 
the slang phrase so laconically expres- 
sive of ' You may be sure I will "... A 
night marauder took advantage of a good 
moon to place a ladder against a win- 
dow, hoping to secure the property of 
a gentleman asleep within the chamber. 
As he lifted the window, and put his 
head in, the gentleman woke up, and 
with great promptness presented his six- 
shooter, shouting out ' You get ! ' With 
equal promptness the detected thief ex- 
claimed YOU BET! and slid down the 
ladder, et procul in tenuem ex oculis 
evanuit auram. 


183 Betting Round. 

1870. BRET HARTE, Poems, etc., The 
Tale of a Pony: Ah, here comes Rosey's 
new turn-out! Smart! You BET YOUR 
LIFE 'twas that! 

1872. S. CLEMENS ( ' Mark Twain ' ), 
Roughing It, ch. ii. 'The mosquitoes are 
pretty bad about here, madam ! ' ' You 
BET!' 'What did I understand you to 
say, madam ? ' ' You BET ! ' 

1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, Mar. 7. 
Congressional Report. Mr. Boutelle 
That is the bravery to which you refer ? 
(Applause on the Republican side.) Mr. 
O'Ferrall Well, sir, it is the right kind 
of bravery: you may BET YOUR BOTTOM 
DOLLAR on that. 

(American.) To BET ONE'S 
EYES is a gambler's term 
for an onlooker who neither 
takes part in, nor bets upon the 

BETHEL, verb. See quotation. 

1740. NORTH, Exainen, p. 93. In the 
year 1680 Bethel and Cornish were 
chosen sheriffs. The former used to 
walk about more like a corn-cutter than 
Sheriff of London. He kept no house, 
but lived upon chops, whence it is pro- 
verbial for not feasting to BETHEL the 

BE THERE, verbal pliv. (common). 
To BE THERE is to be on the 
qui vive ; alive ; knowing ; in 
one's element. 

BETTER, adv. (vulgar). More; 
without any idea of superiority. 
A depraved word ; once in good 
usage, but now regarded as a 

1587. FLEMING, Cont. Holinshed, 
III., p. 1382, col. 2. Woorth one hun- 
dred and twentie pounds and BETTER. 


1679. PLOT, Staffordshire (1686), p. 
239. The bodies . . . being BETTER 
than an inch long. [M.] 

1769. GRAY, in N. Nicholls' Corr. 
(1843), p. 87. It is BETTER than three 
weeks since I wrote to you. [M.] 

1851. G. BORROW, Lavengro, ch. 
Ixx., p. 217 (1888). Following its wind- 
ings for somewhat BETTER than a 

1854. AINSWORTH, Flitch of Bacon, 
pt. I., ch. v. ' Pastor of Little Dunmow 
Church for fifty years and BETTER.' 

1857. DICKENS, Dorrit, bk. I., ch. 
x., 75. ' Yes. Rather BETTER than twelve 
years ago.' 

1860. DICKENS, Xmas Stories (Mess, 
from Sea), p. 89 (H. ed.). ' He shipped 
for his last voyage BETTER than three 
years ago." 

BETTER HALF, subs, (colloquial). 
A humorous term for a wife. 
The history of the phrase is 
thus given by Murray, 'originally 
my better half, i.e. , the more than 
half of my being ; said of a 
very close and intimate friend ' ; 
(Cf., ' the better part of me ' 
Shaks. ; ' mece pavtem animce,' 
' anwhe dimidium me&,' Hor- 
ace ; ' anima pavtem . . . nostrif 
majorem ' Statius) ; especially 
(after Sidney) used for ' my 
husband ' or ' wife ' ; now, joc- 
ularly appropriated to the 
latter. Formerly also applied 
to the soul, as the better part 
of man. 

1580. SIDNEY, Arcadia, III., 280. 
[Argalus to Parthenia, his wife.} My 
deare, my BETTER HALFE (sayd hee), I 
find I must now leaue thee. [M.] 

Circa 1600. SHAKSPEARE, Sonnets, 
xxxix., 2. 
O how thy worth with manners may I 

When thou art all the BETTER PART of 

me ? 
What can mine own praise to mine own 

self bring ? 
And what is't but mine own when I 

praise thee. 

1720. SHEFFIELD (Duke of Bucking- 
ham), wks. (1753) I., 274. My dear and 
BETTER HALF is out of danger. [M.] 

1842. THEODORE MARTIN, in Eraser's 
Magazine, Dec., p. 241, col. 2. I ... 
shall look out for a BETTER HALF. [M.] 

BETTING ROUND, ppl. adj. (racing). 
Laying fairly and equally 
against nearly all the horses 
in a race, so that no great risk 

Bettor Round. 


B Flats. 

can be run. Commonly called 


BETTOR ROUND, subs, (racing). 
One who is addicted to BETTING 
ROUND (q.v.). 

1882. 'THORMANBY,' Famous Rac- 
ing Men, p. 75. He [John Gully] worked 
on gradually as a layer of odds a 
'BETTOR ROUND,' or 'leg,' as he was 
called in those days. [c. 1820.] 

BETTY or BESS, subs. (old). A 
small instrument used formerly 
by burglars to force open doors 
and pick locks. Now called a 
JENNY ; also jemmy ; tivvil ; 
twist ; or screw. For syno- 
nyms, see THIEVES, etc. 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. 
I., ch. v., p. 47 (1874). BETTY, an instru- 
ment to break a door. 

1705. WARD, Hitdibras Redivivns, 
vol. II., pt. IX., p. 7. 
So Ruffains, who, with Crows and 

Break Houses, when it dark and late is. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. Bring BESS and glym ; 
i.e., bring the instrument to force the 
door, and the dark lanthorn. 

1851. H. MAYHEW, Low. Lab. and 
Low. Poor, IV., 339. Expert burglars 
are generally equipped with good tools. 
They have a jemmy, a cutter, a dozen of 
BETTIES, better known as picklocks. 

Verb (colloquial). To potter 
about ; to fuss about. Usually 
said of a man assuming the 
domestic functions of a woman. 

ALL BETTY ! intj. (thieves'). 
A cry of warning ; 'it's all up ; 
the game is lost ! ' 


BETWATTLED, ppl. adj. (old). Sur- 
prised ; confounded ; out of 
one's senses ; also bewrayed. 


SEVER, BEVIR, BCEVER, subs. (Eton, 
Winchester, and Westminster 
Colleges) . An afternoon meal 
served in hall. An old time term 
for a repast or snack between 
meals, especially in the after- 
noon ; it is still dialectical in 
some parts of England. Murray 
gives examples of its use dating 
back to 1500. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 83. In summer 
time we were let out of afternoon school 
for a short time about four p.m., when 
there was a slight refection of bread and 
cheese laid out in Hall. It was called 
BEEVER-TIME, and the pieces of bread 


1884. M. MORRIS, in English Illus- 
trated Magazine, Nov., p. 73. [At Eton, 
we] came up from cricket in the summer 
afternoons for BEAVER. 

BEVERAGE or BEVY, subs. (old). 
A tip ; a vail ; equivalent to the 
French pourboire ; money for 
drink, demanded, says Grose 
[1785], of any one having a new 
suit of clothes. For synonyms, 
see TIP. 

BEWARE, subs, (theatrical). Ex- 
plained by quotation. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Labour 
and London Poor, vol. III., p. 149. ' We 
[strolling actors] call breakfast, dinner, 
tea, supper, all of them " numyare " ; and 
all beer, brandy, water, or soup, are 


B FLATS, subs, (common). Bugs. 
Cf. , F SHARPS, and for synonyms, 

1866. DICKENS, Household Words, 
xx., 326. Mrs. B. beheld one night a 
stout negro of the flat-back tribe known 
among comic writers as B FLATS 
stealing up towards the head of the bed. 

1868. BREWER, Phrase and Fable, 
s.v. B FLATS. Bugs. The pun is ' B ' 
(the initial letter), and ' FLAT,' from the 
flatness of the obnoxious insect. 




BIB, phr. (popular). To weep; 
to ' blubber ' ; to ' snivel.' 

ccluses (popular : ' to let loose the 
floodgates ' ; the phrase also 
means ' to void urine ' ) ; pisser 
des yeux (common: ' to urinate 
with the eyes ') ; pleuvoir des 
chdsses (thieves' : pleuvoir = ' to 
rain ' ; in military slang to void 
urine ; chdsse = eye) ; verver 
(thieves' : a corrupted form of 
verser, 'to pour out,' to shed) ; 
viauper (popular: this argotic 
verb also means ' to go molrow- 
ing ' or ' to lead a dissolute life '); 
chasser des reluits (popular: chasser 
' to expel,' ' to drive out ' ; re- 
luits = ' the eyes,' or ' ogles ' ) ; 
chier des chdsses (popular : a 
coarse term) ; chigner (popular) ; 
baver des clignots (popular : liter- 
ally ' to drivel, slaver ' or ' slobber 
the eyes ' cligner signifying ' to 
wink ' or ' blink ' ; hence clignots, 
1 the blinkers ' or ' winkers ' ) ; 
beugler (popular : properly ' to 
bellow' [like a bull]). 

eiclien (from the Hebrew echa, 
the first word in the Lamenta- 
tions of Jeremiah) ;flonen,phlonen, 
flannen, flaussen, or flennen (to 

Eull one's mouth awry, either 
Dr laughing or crying, but 
among German thieves mainly 
in the former sense) ; jalenjau- 
len, or jolen machen (from the 
HebrewyWa/, whining ; ' to howl,' 
to whine). 

nare (this also signifies ' to rain ' : 
Cf., the French, pleuv^r des 
chdsses} ; slenzare or slenzire Mso 
' to urinate ' : Cf., French, ldc^ v 
les ecluses) ; venture (the primary 
slang sense of venture is ' to 
moisten,' hence ' to shed tears ' : 

properly 'to blow,' 'to be 
windy ') ; lenzare or lenzire (pri- 
marily, in a slang sense, 'to 
soak,' ' to wet ' ; from this the 
meaning is transferred to signify 
' to make water, 'i.e., 'to urinate,' 
and also ' to shed tears ' : the 
word is properly written Vance ; 
the derivation will be found 
under the French synonyms for 
ADAM'S ALE, q.v.). 

In Spanish there is one ex- 
pression for ' to cry ' which is 
full of poetry fabricar las perlas, 
i.e., ' to make pearls.' Arabs 
likewise speak of tears as ' pearls 
on the face.' 

BIBABLES or BIBIBLES, subs. (Ameri- 
can). Drink, as distinguished 
from food. [A coinage on the 
model of 'edibles,' 'eatables,' 
' drinkables,' etc. ; from Latin 
EiB-ere, to drink, + ABLE, i.e., 
able to be drunk.] 

(Special Correspondent of the Times), 
My Diary in India in the years 1858-9, I., 
p. 8. Could all the pale-ale, soda-water, 
sherry, porter, and vin ordinaire, and the 
feebler BIBABLES be turned into nectar, 

1860. Pittsburg Despatch, Aug. The 
table was loaded and spread with edibles 
and BIBIBLES of every possible kind. 

[DE V.] 

BIB-ALL-NIGHT, subs. (old). A 
toper ; a confirmed drunkard. 
[From viB-ere, to drink, -f ALL- 

1612. SYLVESTER, Lacrymcz Lacry- 
maram, p. 101. Bats, Harpies, Syrens, 
Centaurs, BIB-ALL-NIGHTS. 

BIBLE, subs, (nautical). See quo- 

1867. ADMIRAL SMYTH, Sailors' 
Word Book. BIBLE, a hand-axe ; a small 
holy-stone [a kind of sand-stone used in 
cleaning decks] , so called from seamen 
using them kneeling.' 





1883. W. CLARK RUSSELL, Sailors' 
Language, p. 14. BIBLES. Small holy- 
stones, no doubt originally so called 
because they oblige those who use them 
to kneel. They are also termed ' prayer 
books ' for the same reason. 

THAT'S BIBLE, phr. (common). 
That's the truth ; that's A i. 

BIBLE-CARRIER, subs, (vagrants'). 
A person who sell songs without 
singing them. Often heard in 
the neighbourhood of Seven 

BIBLE-CLERK, subs. (Winchester 
College). A College prefect in 
full power, appointed for one 
week . H e keeps order in school , 
reads the lessons in chapel, 
takes round ROLLS (q.v.), and 
assists at floggings. He is ab- 
solved from going up to BOOKS 

f.v.) during his term of office. 

"he prefect of HALL need not 
act as BIBLE-CLERK unless he 
likes, and the prefect of School 
may choose any week he pleases ; 
the rest take weeks in rotation, 
in the order of their Chambers 
in College. See BIBLER AND 

1864. Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 
XCV., p. 73. [At dinner] portions of beef 
were served out to the boys . . . the 
BIBLE-CLERK meanwhile reading a 
chapter from the Old Testament. Ibid, 
p. 87. An hour ... is expected to be 
employed in working under the superin- 
tendence of the BIBLE-CLERK, as the 
praefect in daily ' course ' is termed, who 
is responsible for a decent amount of 
order and silence at these hours. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 103. Order was 
kept during school hours by the BIBLE- 
CLERK and Ostiarus, two of the Praefects, 
who held these offices in rotation 
the former lasting for a week, the latter 
for one day only. They paraded School 
armed with sticks, and brought up to the 
Head and Second Masters (who alone 
had the power of flogging) the names of 
the delinquents which had been 
1 ordered ' for punishment ; the names of 

the more heinous offenders being 
confided to the BIBLE-CLERK, the others 
to the Ostiarus. 

1878. ADAMS, Wykehamica, p. 59. 
There appears to have been no regular 
BIBLE-CLERK. . . From this it has been 
inferred that the institution of these 
offices must have been subsequent, and 
(some think) long subsequent to the 
Founder's time. 

BIBLE-POUNDER, subs, (common). 
A clergyman. [From BIBLE + 
POUNDER, from the practice 
indulged in by some excitable 
exponents, of pounding or beat- 
ing their hands upon the book 
or desk while preaching.] For 
synonyms, see DEVIL-DODGER. 

BIBLER, subs. (Winchester College). 
Now called BIBLING (q.v.). 

1870. MANSFIELD, School - Life at 
Winchester College, p. 109. The first time 
a boy's name was ordered, the punish- 
ment was remitted on his pleading 
' Prtmnm tcmpus.' For a more serious 
breach of duty, a flogging of six cuts (a 
BIBLER) was administered, in which 
case the culprit had to ' order his name 
to the BIBLE-CLERK,' and that individual, 
with the help of Ostiarius, performed 
the office of Jack Ketch. 

BIBLER UNDER NAIL, subs. phr. 
(Winchester College). See BIB- 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 109. If a boy was 
detected in a lie, or any very disgrace- 
ful proceeding a rare occurrence, I am 
happy to say he had to stand up in the 
centre of Junior row during the 
whole of the School time, immediately 
preceding the infliction of the flogging ; 
this pillory process was called a BIBLER 


BIBLING, subs. (Winchester Col- 
lege). Formerly called a BIBLER 
(q.v.). A flogging of six cuts on 
the small of the back, adminis- 
tered by the head or second 
master. So called because the 
person to be operated upon 



ORDERED (q.v.) his name to the 
BIBLE-CLERK (q.v.). 

1864. Blackwood's Magazine, vol. 
XCV., p. 79. Underneath is the place of 
execution, where delinquents are BIBLED. 
Ibid, p. 72. It need hardly be said that 
it [the rod] is applied in the ordinary 
fashion : six cuts forming what is tech- 
nically called a BIBLING on which 
occasions the Bible-Clerk introduces the 
victim ; four being the sum of a less 
terrible operation called a ' scrubbing.' 

BIBLING-ROD, subs. (Winchester 
College). The instrument with 
which a BIBLING (q.v.) was 
administered. It consisted of 
a handle with four apple twigs 
in the end, twisted together. 
It is represented on ' Aut Disce." 
It was invented and first used 
by Warden Baker in 1454. It 
is not used now. 

(Winchester College). A BIB- 
LING (q.v.) administered for 
very heinous offences after an 
offender had stood under NAIL 
(q.v.). See quot. in BIBLER 


BIDDY, subs. (old). i. A chicken ; 
sometimes CHICK- A- BIDDY. 
Hence, figuratively. 

2. (familiar.) A young 
woman, not necessarily Irish. 
In both these senses the word 
appears in Grose [ 1785 ]. 
Since that time it would seem 
to have changed somewhat in 
meaning as follows. 

3. (familiar.) A woman, 
whether young or old. 

1868. O. W. HOLMES, Guardian 
Angel, ch. xxviii., p. 233 (Rose Lib.). 
' Don't trouble yourself about Kitty 
Fagan, for pity's sake, Mr. Bradshaw. 
The BIDDIES are all alike, and they're all 
as stupid as owls, except when you tell 
'em just what to do, and how to do it. 
A pack of priest-ridden fools ! ' 

1887. Cornhill Mag., May, p. 510. 
How he gave to one old BIDDY ' five 
guineas to buy a jack,' and to another 
substantial help towards her boy's 

4. (Winchester College.) See 

5. (American.) A servant girl 
generally Irish. 

BIDET, or BIDDY, subs. (Winchester 
College). A bath. Juniors fill 
these for Prasfect. The Win- 
chester term is the French word 
bidet, the name given to the low 
narrow bedroom bathing stools, 
used principally by women, but 
more frequently on the Conti- 
nent than in England. They are 
of such a shape that they can 
be bestridden. In this connec- 
tion it may be mentioned, that 
in French bidet also signifies 
' a small horse ' or ' pony.' 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BIDET, commonly pro- 
nounced biddy, a kind of tub, contrived 
for ladies to wash themselves, for which 
purpose they bestride it like a little 
French pony or post horse, called in 
France BIDETS. 


BIFF, subs. (American). A blow. 
' To give [one] a BIFF in the 
jaw' ; Anglice, ' to wipe one in 
the chops.' Cf., BANG, and for 
synonyms, see DIG. 

BIFFIN, subs, (familiar). 'My BIF- 
FIN ! ' i.e., ' my pal ! ' A biffin 
is properly a dried apple : Nor- 
folk biffins especially are con- 
sidered great delicacies. 

BIG. To TALK or LOOK BIG, phr. 
(familiar). To assume a pom- 
pous style or manner with a 
view to impressing others with 
a sense of one's importance ; to 

Big As All Outdoors. 188 

Big Bug. 

talk boastingly. A French 
equivalent is se hancher. 

1579. SPENSER, Shep. Cat., Sept., 50. 
The shepheards swayne you cannot wel 


But it be by his pryde, from other men : 
They LOOKEN BIGGE as Bulls. 

1604. SHAKSPEARE, Winter's Tale, 
Act iv., Sc. 3. Not a more cowardly 
rogue, in all Bohemia : if you had but 
LOOKED BIG, and spit at him, he'd have 

1771. SMOLLETT, Humphry Clinker, 
1. 26. The squire, in all probability, 
cursed his punctuality in his heart, but 
he affected to TALK BIG. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 
xv. 'You will gain nought by SPEAKING 
BIG with me.' 

1838. HALIBURTON, Clockmaker, 2 S., 
ch. viii. ' He LOOKED BIG, and TALKED 
BIG, and altogether was a considerable 
big man in his own consait.' 

Warden, p. 207. The Archdeacon waxed 

BIG AS ALL OUTDOORS, phr. (Ameri- 
can). An expression intended 
to convey an idea of indefi- 
nite size ; hugeness ; enormous 

1838. HALIBURTON ('Sam Slick 1 ), 
The Clockmaker, 2 S., ch. ii. The in- 
farnal villain ! Tell me who he is, and 
if he was BIG AS ALL OUTDOORS, I'd walk 
into him. Ibid, ch. iv. He is looking as 
BIG AS ALL OUTDOORS gist now, and is 
waitin' for us to come to him. 

BIG-BELLIED, adj. (colloquial). 
Advanced in pregnancy. 

1711. ADDISON [Referred to by] . 

1848. JOHN FORSTER, Life and Times 
of Oliver Goldsmith, bk. II., ch. iv. My 
desires are as capricious as the BIG- 
BELLIED woman's. 

BIG BEN, subs, (popular). A nick- 
name for the clock in the tower 
of the Houses of Parliament at 
Westminster. Named after 
Sir Benjamin Hall, the Com- 
missioner of Works, under 

whose supervision it was con- 
structed. It was commenced 
in 1856, and finished in 1857. 

1869. The Register or Mag. of Bio- 
graphy, p. 213. With Sir Charles Barry's 
sanction he designed the ornament cast 
on the Westminster Bell, familiarly 
known as BIG BEN. 

1880. Punch, No. 2039, p. 51. BIG 
BEN struck two, and the house adjourned. 

BIG BIRD, phr. (theatrical). 
To be hissed on the stage ; or, 
conversely, to hiss. When an 
actor or actress GETS THE BIG 
BIRD, it may be from two causes : 
either it is a compliment for 
successful pourtrayal of villainy, 
in which case the GODS (q.v.) 
simply express their abhorence 
of the character and not of the 
actor ; or, the hissing may be 
directed against the actor, per- 
sonally, for some reason or other. 
The BIG BIRD is the goose. For 
synonyms, see GOOSED. 

1886. Graphic, 10 April, p. 399. To 
BE GOOSED, or, as it is sometimes phrased, 
to GET THE BIG BIRD, is occasionally a 
compliment to the actor's power of repre- 
senting villainy, but more often is dis- 
agreeably suggestive of a failure to please. 

BIG BUG, subs, (popular). A 
person of standing or conse- 
quence, either self-estimated or 
in reality. A disrespectful but 
common mode of allusion to 
persons of wealth or with other 
claims to distinction. Variants 
WIG, and GREAT GUN (which 
see for general synonyms). 

1854. Widow Bedott Papers, p. 301. 
Miss Samson Savage is one of the BIG 
BUGS, that is, she's got more money 
than a'most anybody else in town. 

1857. N. Y. Times, February. The 
free-and-easy manner in which the hair- 
brained Sir Robert Peel described some 
of the BIG BUGS at Moscow has got him 
into difficulty. 


Big Country . 

Biggest Toad in Puddle. 

1872. SCHELE DE VERB, American- 
isms, p. 392. Persons of great wealth 
and distinction are irreverently called 
BIG BUGS, and I-street, in Washington, 
is thus said to be inhabited by the foreign 
ambassadors and other BIG BUGS. J. C. 
Neal makes a nice distinction when he 
says of a rich man without social import- 
ance : ' He is one of your BIG BUGS, with 
more money than sense.' 

1888. Texas Si/tings, Sep. 15. Don't 
appear unduly surprised or flustrated if, 
on answering the front door bell, you 
find Mr. Gladstone wiping his feet on the 
door mat. Invite him to walk in in a 
cool, collected tone of voice . . . Show 
him you have entertained BIG BUGS 

BIG COUNTRY, subs, (hunting). 
The open country. 

(American). A consequential, 
pompous individual ; one who 
will neither allow others a voice 
in any matter, or permit dissent 
from his own views. The ob- 
vious derivation is from the 
customary guarding of tan- 
yards by ferocious watch-dogs. 
For synonyms, see GREAT GUN. 


phr. (American). The chief in 
any undertaking or enterprise ; a 
leader. A simile evidently de- 
rived from the stable or kennel. 
The phrase is sometimes short- 
ened to BIG DOG. For synonyms, 

1848. J. R. BARTLETT, Americanisms, 
p. 42. In some parts of the country, the 
principal man of a place or in an under- 
taking is called the BIG DOG WITH A 
BRASS COLLAR, as opposed to the little 
curs not thought worthy of a collar. 

1882. ALAN PINKERTON, The Molly 
Maguires, p. 24. ' Yes,' said Dormer, 
4 Lawler is the BIG DOG in these parts 
now; besides he kapes a good tavern, 
and will see no old-timer, or young one 
either, for that matther, sufferin' from 
want while he can relieve him ! ' 

BIG DRINK, subs, (familiar). i. 
The ocean ; more particularly 

applied to the Atlantic. Also 
called the BIG POND, HERRING 
POND, the PUDDLE (q.v.). 

1882. Miss BRADDON, Mount Royal, 
ch. xiii. ' I was coming across the BIG 
DRINK as fast as a Cunard could bring 

2. (Western American.) 
When a Western plainsman 
talks of the BIG DRINK, he is 
always understood to mean the 
Mississippi river. 


DRINK is to partake of liquor 
from a large glass. It is very cus- 
tomary when calling for refresh- 
ment to state whether a LONG 
or SHORT DRINK is required. 


FIGURE, phr. (common). A vari- 
ant of ' to go the whole hog,' 
or ' to go the whole animal.' It 
signifies embarking upon an en- 
terprise of magnitude. The 
phrase is mainly current in the 
Southern States, and is derived 
from a term used in poker. 

1868. Pickings from the Picayune, p. 
226. When I saw that, I thought I 
might as well GO THE BIG FIGURE, you 
see, and so I grabbed the bag ; but mis- 
chief would have it, that just then the 
policeman grabbed me and took me to 
the caboose. 

BIGGEST, adj. (American). A su- 
perlative often used in the sense 
of ' the best ' or ' the finest." 

1848. RUXTON, Life in Far West, p. 
129. The thermal springs are regarded 
by the trappers as the breathing-places 
of his Satanic majesty ; and considered, 
moreover, to be the BIGGEST kind of 
medicine to be found in the mountains. 

1888. Washington (Pa.) Review. 
The Pittsburg Times is as breezy a 
journal as comes to this office. It is the 
BIGGEST little paper we are acquainted 


(American). One of the many 


Big Nuts to Crack. 

bold, if equivocal metaphors 
to which the West has given 
PUDDLE is the recognised leader 
or chief whether in politics, or 
in connection with the rougher 
avocations of pioneer life. Equi- 

also BIG BUG, and for synonyms 
generally, GREAT GUN. 

1848. J. R. BARTLETT, A mericanisms, 
A Western expression for a head-man ; a 
leader of a political party, or of a crowd. 
Not an elegant expression, though some- 
times well applied. Thus a Western 
newspaper, in speaking of the most 
prominent man engaged in the political 
contest for one of the Presidential candi- 
dates before Congress, says : ' Mr. D. D. 


BIGGIN, subs. (Winchester College). 
A coffee machine in two 
parts a strainer, and a coffee- 
pot for the infusion. It took 
its name from the inventor, a 
Mr. Biggin, who received letters 
patent ' some years ' previous 
to 1803. (Gent. Mag., Ixxiii., p. 

BIGGITY, adv. (American). Con- 
sequential ; giving oneself airs. 
A negro term. 

r. 1884. S. L.CLEMENS, Life on the 
Mississippi, p. 511. These railroads have 
made havoc with the steamboat com- 
merce. The clerk of our boat was a 
steamboat clerk before these roads 
were built. In that day the influx 
of population was so great, and the 
freight business so heavy, that the boats 
were not able to keep up with the 
demands made upon their carrying 
capacity ; consequently the Captain was 
very independent and airy pretty 
BIGGITY as Uncle Remus would say. 

BIG GUN, subs, (familiar). A 
person of consequence. Possibly 
of sporting origin. For syno- 
nyms, see GREAT GUN. 

1888. Texas Siftings, Oct. 13. ' Who's 
a BIG GUN ? You don't consider that 
insignificant ink-slinger across the way 
a BIG GUN, do you ? ' ' My wife can 
hardly wait to get it out of the mail," 
shouted Jones, desperately. 

phr. (American). i. To be 
conceited ; bumptious. Also 
applied to men or youths who 
are ' cocksure ' of everything, 
or affected in manner. See also 

1848. J. R. BARTLETT, A mericanisms, 
p. 43. Boys who smoke cigars, chew 
tobacco, drink strong liquors, gamble, 
and treat their parents and superiors as 
their inferiors of such a boy it is said, 
' He has GOT THE BIG-HEAD.' 

1888. Texas Siftings, Oct. 20. If 
we were to base our calculation upon 
the corpulency of his iron hat and 
helmet, we should say it was a case of 
BIG-HEAD, while his legs were long as a 
pair of duplex pinchers, his arms like 
the fans of a windmill, his feet like the 
foot of Mont Blanc, while his digital 
annex is like an inverted ham. 

2. The phrase also signifies 
the after effect of a debauch. 


get drunk. For synonyms, see 

BIG HOUSE, subs, (common). The 
workhouse, a phrase used by 
the very poor ; sometimes 
called the LARGE HOUSE. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 52. ' As long as 
they kept out of the BIG HOUSE (the 
workhouse), she would not complain.' 
Ibid, II., p. 251. The men hate the 
thought of going to the BIG HOUSE. 

BIG MOUTH, subs. (American). 
Excessive talkativeness ; loqua- 
city. Cf., ALL MOUTH. For 
synonyms, see GAS. 

BIG NUTS TO CRACK, subs. phr. 
(American). An undertaking of 

Big One. 



magnitude ; one not easy to 
perform. [From a presumed 
difficulty in cracking large nuts.] 

BIG ONE or BIG '(jN.snbs. (old). 
A man of note or importance. 
The current colloquialism is 
BIG-WIG, but at one time BIG- 
ONE was the more frequently- 
used expression. For synonyms, 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 
to Congress, p. 42. Then up rose Ward, 
the veteran Joe, And, 'twixt his whiffs, 
suggested briefly That but a few at first 
should go, And those, the light-weight 
Gemmen chiefly ; As if too many BIG 
ONES went, They might alarm the Conti- 
nent ! 

BIG PEOPLE, subs, (familiar). Per- 
sons of standing or consequence. 

Thome, I., p. 43. He would n no way 
assume a familiarity with bigger men 
than himself; allowing to the bigger men 
the privilege of making the first advances. 
Ibid, p. 81. When one is absolutely in 
the dirt at their feet, perhaps these BIG 
PEOPLE won't wish one to stoop any 

BIG POND, subs, (popular). The 
Atlantic. Also called THE BIG 
DRINK (q.v.). 

1838. HALIBURTON ('Sam Slick'), 
The Clockmaker, 3 S., ch. xviii. He 
[old Clay] is all sorts of a hoss, and the 
best live one that ever cut dirt this side 
of the BIG POND, or t'other side either. 

1883. SALA, Living London, p. 204. 
Next time Miss Ward crosses the BIG 
POND, I earnestly hope that she will 
cross the 'Rockies,' and triumphantly 
descend the Pacific slope. 

BIG POT, subs, (familiar). A per- 
son of consequence. For syno- 
nyms, see GREAT GUN. 

1880. Punch's Almanac, The Cad's 
Calendar. Lor ! if I'd the ochre, make no 
doubt, I could cut no end of BIG POTS 

out. Call me cad? When money's in 
the game, Cad and swell are pooty 
much the same. 

BIG-SIDE, subs. (Rugby School). 
The combination of all the 
bigger fellows in the" school in 
one and the same game or 
run ; also the ground specially 
used for the game so denomi- 
nated. Used also at other 
public schools. 

BIG-SIDE RUN, subs. (Rugby 
School). A paper chase, in 
which picked representatives of 
all houses take part, as opposed 
to a house run. 

BIG TAKE, subs. (American). That 
which takes the public fancy ; a 
great success, etc., in short, 
anything that ' catches on.' See 

BIG TALK, subs, (popular). Pom- 
pous speech ; a pedantic use of 
long words. 

1874. Saturday Review, Feb., p. 
280. [With regard to words like 
'psithurism,' ' cheirognomy, 1 'scintil- 
lating eyes,' 'the phaesimbrotous sun '] 
perhaps they have been grown so 
accustomed to BIG TALK that, etc. 

BIG-WIG, subs. (popular). A person 
of consequence ; one high in 
authority or rank. [From BIG 
-f WIG, an allusion to the large 
and ornate headgear of men of 
importance in former times.] 
The term is used both con- 
temptuously and humorously. 
For synonyms, see GREAT GUN. 

1703. English Spy, p. 255. Most 
noble cracks, and worthy cousin 
trumps, permit me to introduce a 
brother of the togati, fresh as a new- 
blown rose, and innocent as the lilies of 
St. Clements. Be unto him ever ready 
to promote his wishes, whether for spree 
or sport, in term and out of term, 
against the Inquisition and their bull- 




dogs the town-raff and the bargees 
well-blunted or stiver-cramped against 
dun or don nob or BIG WIG so may 
you never want a bumper of bishop. 

1846. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, ch. 
xx. We live among bankers and city 
BIG-WIGS, and be hanged to them, and 
every man, as he talks to you, is jingling 
his guineas in his pocket. 

1859. H. KINGSLEY, Geoffrey Ham- 
lyn, ch. xlv. So you are going to sit 
among the BIG-WIGS in the House of 

1876 circa. Broadside Ballad, 'Justice 
and Law. 1 
The Penge Case you know took a curious 


But how it occurred, we can't guess, 
Unless, unexpected, some turn of the 


Has got some ' BIG-WIG ' in a mess. 
To some folks it seems rather queer, 

now, you see, 
When ' Sentence of Death ' had been 

That one of the four is allowed to go 


And her prison doors wide open cast. 

1880. A. TROLLOPE, The Duke's 
Children, ch. xxvi. 'The Right Honor- 
able gentleman no doubt means,' said 
Phineas, ' that we must carry ourselves 
with some increased external dignity. 
The world is BIGWIGGING itself, and we 
must buy a bigger wig than any we have 
got, in order to confront the world with 
proper self-respect.' 

BIG-WIGGED, ppl. adj. (popular). 
Pompous ; consequential . 
[From BIG-WIG (q.v.) + [G] ED.] 

1851. CARLYLE, John Sterling, pt. I., 
ch. vii. And along with obsolete spirit- 
ualisms, he sees all manner of obsolete 
thrones and BIG-WIGGED temporalities. 

BIG- WIGGERY, subs, (popular). 
A display of consequence, or 
pomposity. [From BIG -WIG 
(q.v.) + [G] ERY, a condition.] 

1848. THACKERAY, Book of Snobs, 
ch. ii. Whilst Louis XIV., his old 
squaretoes of a contemporary the great 
worshipper of BIGWIGGERY has always 
struck me as a most undoubted and 
Royal Snob. 

1855. Household Words, xii., 250. 
All this solemn BIGWIGGERY these 
triumphs, ovations, sacrifices, orations. 

BIG-WIGGISM, subs, (popular). 
Pomposity. [From BIG-WIG 
(q.v.) -f [G]ISM, a state or con- 

1871-72. G. ELIOT, Middlemarch, 
ch. xvii. I determined not to try any- 
thing in London for a good many years 
at least. I didn't like what I saw when 
I was studying there so much empty 
BIG-WIGGISM and obstructive trickery. 

BIG WORDS, subs, (familiar). 
Pompous speech ; ' crack-jaw ' 
words. Cf., To TALK BIG, and 

for Paris, I., p. 103. 'I don't like such 
cynicism ! ' ' Oh, cynicism is a BIG 

BILBO or BILBO A, subs. (old). A 
sword. Bilboa in Spain was 
once renowned for well-tempered 
blades. Grose [1785] quotes 
the term as slang; this, how- 
ever, is somewhat doubtful. 

1592. GREENE, Disputation, etc., in 
wks. X., 236. Let them doe what they 
dare with their BILBOWE blades, I feare 
them not. 

1693. CONGREVE, Old Batchelor, Act 
iii., Sc. 7. Tell them, I say, he must 
refund or BILBO'S the word, and slaugh- 
ter will ensue. 

1713. Guardian, No. 145. 'He that 
shall rashly attempt to regulate our hilts, 
or reduce our blades, had need to have a 
heart of oak . . . BILBO is the word, 
remember that and tremble.' 

1816. SCOTT, Old Mortality, ch. iv. 
' It was all fair play; your comrade 
sought a fall, and he has got it. 1 

' That is true enough,' said Bothvvell, 
as he slowly rose; 'put up your BILBO, 

2. A kind of stock a long 
iron bar with sliding shackles 
for the ankles of prisoners, and 
a lock by which to fasten the 
bar at one end to the ground. 
The derivation is very uncertain. 

1557. HAKLUYT, Voy., I., 295. I 
was also conveyed to their lodgings . . . 
where I saw a pair of BILBOWES. 




1594. NASHE, Tenors of the Night, 
in wks. (Grosart) III., 255. He that is 
spyced with the gowte or the dropsie, 
frequently dreameth of fetters and mana- 
cles, and being put on the BILBOWES. 

1596. SHAKSPEARE, Hamlet, Act 
v., Sc. 2. Hani. . . . Methought I lay 
worse than the mutines in the BILBOES. 

1695. CONGREVE, Love for Love, Act 
iii., Sc. 6. Now a Man that is marry'd, 
has as it were, d'ye see, his Feet in the 
BILBOES, and may-hap mayn't get 'em 
out again when he wou'd. 

1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. 19. And are those snear'd, or put into 
BILBOES, and handcufft. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BILBOES, the punishing a person at sea, 
by laying or putting the offender in irons, 
or a sort of stocks, but more severe than 
the common stocks. 

1815. SCOTT, Guy Mannering, ch. 
xxxiv. ' And now let us talk about our 
business.' ' Your business, if you please,' 
said Hatterick; ' hagel and donner I 
mine was done when I got out of the 


BILE, subs. (old). i. The female 
pudenda. For synonyms, see 

2. (common.) A vulgarism 
for ' boil.' 

BILGEWATER, subs, (common). - 
Bad beer. Properly the name 
given to the drainings to the 
lowest part of a ship; being 
difficult to get at, these become, 
at times, exceedingly foul and 
offensive. For synonyms, see 

BILK, subs, (common). A word : 
formerly in general use, to 
which a certain stigma of vulga- 
rity is now attached. Uncertain in 
derivation possibly a corrupted 
form of ' balk ' it was first 
employed technically at crib- 
bage to signify the spoiling of 
an adversary's score in the 
crib. Among obsolete or de- 
praved usages may be men- 

Sjibs. i. (obsolete.) A state- 
ment or string of words with- 
out sense, truth, or meaning, 
jointly or severally. 

1663. JONSON, Tale of a Tub, I., i. 
Tub. He will have the last word, though he 
talk BILK for't. Hugh. BILK! what's that. 
Tub. Why nothing ; a word signifying 
Nothing. [Note refers to Cole's English 
Diet. (n.d. given) and to Halliwell, Arch, 
and Prov. Words, s.v.] 

1740. NORTH, Examen, p. 213. Bed- 
loe was sworn, and being asked what he 
knew against the prisoner, answered, 
Nothing .... Bedloe was questioned 
over and over, who still swore the same 

2. (common.) A hoax ; an 
imposition ; a humbug. For 
synonyms, see SELL. Cf., BITE. 

1664. BUTLER, Hudibras, II., iii., 
376. Spells, Which over ev'ry month's 
blank-page In th' Almanack strange 
BILK'S presage. [M.] 

1694: CONGREVE, Double Deal, III., 
x. There he's secure from danger of a 
BILK. [M.] 

1733 circa. NORTH, Lives, i., 260. 
After this BILK of a discovery was 
known. [M.] 

3. (common.) A swindler ; a 
cheat. This is the most familiar 
current use of the word in its 
substantive form, and is applied 
mainly to persons who cheat 
cabmen of their fares, or to 
men who swindle prostitutes 
out of their wretched earnings. 
Also BILKER. For synonyms, 
see SELL. Cf., BITE. 

1790. SHERIDAN, in Sheridaniana, 
109. Johnny W[i] Iks, Johnny W[i] Iks, 
Thou greatest of BILKS. 

1836. MARRYAT, Japhet, ch. ix. 
After a little delay, the wagoner drove 
off, cursing him for a BILK, and vowing 
that he'd never have any more to do with 
a ' larned man.' 

4. (American.) A strongly 
offensive term used in the West 
to signify a person who habitu- 
ally sponges upon another, and 
who never by any chance makes 





a return or even offers to do so. 
In English slang it means a 
downright cheat or swindler 
(see sense 3). It will therefore 
be seen that the Western 
American usage has consider- 
ably softened its meaning. 

1840. McCLURE, Rocky Mountain, 
p. 211. The term was entirely novel to 
me, and I first asked its meaning of a 
landlord, who explained to me by saying 
that a BILK is a man who never misses a 
meal and never pays a cent. 

Adj. (obsolete). Fallacious; 
without truth or meaning. 

1740. NORTH, Examen, p. 129. To 
that [Oates's plot] and the author's 
BILK account of it I am approaching. 

Verb (common). To cheat; 
defraud ; evade one's obliga- 
tions ; escape from, etc. (see subs., 
sense 2, and compare with 
quotations). For synonyms, see 

1677. WYCHERLEY, Plain Dealer, 
Act v., Sc. 3. i Knight: Ay, a great 
lawyer that shall be nameless BILKED me 

1729. GAY, Polly, Act ii., Sc. 9. 
Honour plays a bubbles part, ever BILK'D 
and cheated. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BILK (v.), to cheat, balk, disappoint, de- 
ceive, gull, or bubble ; also to go out of a 
publick-house or tavern, without paying 
the reckoning. 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. 
XIV., ch. iv. ' I promise you,' an swered 
Nightingale, ' I don't intend to BILK my 
lodgings ; but I have a private reason for 
not taking a formal leave.' 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BILKE. ' Let us BILK the 
rattling cove ' ; let us cheat the hackney 
coachman of his fare : bilking a coach- 
man, a box keeper, or a poor whore, was 
formerly among men of the town thought 
a gallant action. 

1847. LYTTON, Lucretia, pt. II., ch. 
xix. ' Are you playing me false ? Have 
you set another man on the track with a 
view to BILK me of my promised fee ? ' 


(thieves'). To evade the police. 


phr. (common). To obtain 
knowledge or experience with- 
out paying for it. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 5. Log. Well, don't 
grumble every one must pay for 
his learning and you wouldn't BILK 


come, I'm getting merry ; so if you wish 
for a bit of good truth, come with me, 
and let's have a dive among the cadgers 
in the back slums, in the Holy Land. 

BILKER, subs. (common). A 
cheat ; a swindler. Sometimes 
abbreviated to BILK (sense 3). 

BILKING, subs, (common). The 
action of cheating or swindling. 

BILL, subs. (Eton College). i. A 
list of the boys who have to go 
to the head master at 12 o'clock ; 
also of those who get off 
ABSENCE (<j-v.), or names- 
calling, e.g., an eleven playing 
in a match are thus exempt. 

Years at Eton. Some of the small boys 
whom this delightful youth tempted to 
ape his habits, had often occasion to rue 
it when they staggered back to college 
giddy and sick, carrying with them a 
perfume which told its tale to their 
tutors, and caused them to be put in the 


2. (Harrow School.) Names- 

To HANG UP A BILL, phr. 

(American political). Explain- 
ed by quotation. 

1887. Corn hill Magazine, June, p. 

628. To HANG UP A BILL IS to paSS it 

through one or more of its stages, and 
then to lay it aside and defer its further 
consideration for a more or less indefi- 
nite period. 

To RUSH A BILL, phr. (Ameri- 
can political). To expedite the 
passing of a bill through the 
Senate and Congress. Cf., RUSH, 




1887. Cornhill Magazine, June, p. 
628. To RUSH A BILL is an expression 
well known in the American Senate, and 
occasionally also used here. 

LONG or SHORT BILL, tubs, 
phr. (thieves'). A long or short 
term of imprisonment. 


phr. (old). Said of a man or 
woman who is always ready for 
sexual commerce. 

BILLBRIGHTER, subs . (Winchester 
College). A small fagot used 
for lighting coal fires in Kitchen. 
So called from a servant, Bill 
Bright, who was living in 1830. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 89. The Kitchen 
is a spacious apartment with a vaulted 
roof, occupying the entire height of the 
building on the west side of the quad- 
rangle, and at least half its length ; here 
we might see a few Fags endeavouring 
to coax Jem Sims, John Coward, or 
Mother Mariner (the cooks), for an extra 
supply of mashed potatoes, till Kitchen 
is cleared by the exasperated Manciple, 
who has just detected a delinquent in the 
act of secreting under his gown an armful 
of the small faggots used for lighting the 
Kitchen fires (called BILL BRIGHTERS), 
an opportunity for purloining which was 
never allowed to slip by a Junior of a 
properly regulated mind. 

BILLED UP, ppl. adj. (military). 
In the Guards' regiments to be 
BILLED UP signifies to be con- 
fined to barracks. 

BILLET, subs, (popular). A situa- 
tion ; a ' berth.' [From BILLET, 
an official military order requir- 
ing food and shelter to be pro- 
vided for the soldier bearing 

TO GET A BILLET,/^, (thieves') 

When in prison to obtain pro- 
motion to duties which carry 
with them certain privileges. 

BILLIARD BLOCK, subs, (society). 
An epithet applied to one who 
puts up with disagreeables for 
the sake of pecuniary or other 
advantages ; also, occasionally, 
to one who acts as ' jackal ' for 
another and to TAME CATS (q.v.). 

1831. MRS. GORE, Mothers and 
Daughters, p. 75. The Duke of L. was 
fortunate in somewhat more than the 
usual apportionments of souffre-douleurs, 
doubles, BILLIARD-BLOCKS, living hun- 
ters, younger brothers, to talk to the 
young lady nieces, etc. 

BILLIARD-SLUM, subs. (Australian 
thieves ' ) . False pretences . 


BILLINGSGATE, subs, (popular). 
Foul, coarse language ; scur- 
rilous vituperation. From the 
evil reputation 'which the mar- 
ket of the same name has enjoyed 
for centuries. In the seven- 
teenth century references to the 
violent and abusive speech of 
those frequenting the place 
were very numerous. In French 
an analogous reference is made 
to the Place Maubert, long 
noted for its noisy market. 

1677. WYCHERLEY, Plain Dealer, 
Act iii. Quaint. . . . Whose reputa- 
tion, though never so clear and evident 
in the eye of the world, yet with sharp 
invectives Wid. Alias, BILLINGS- 
GATE. Quaint. With poignant and sour 
invectives, I say, I will deface. 

1711. DEFOE, The Review, vol. VII., 
preface. As long as faction feeds the 
flame, we shall never want BILLINGS- 
GATE to revile one another with. 

1712. Spectator, No. 451. Our satire 
is nothing but ribaldry, and BILLINGS 

1852. THACKERAY, Esmond, ch. ix. 
If she had come with bowl and dagger, 
would have been routed off the ground 
by the enemy with a volley of BILLINGS- 
GATE, which the fair person always kept 
by her. 

Billingsgate Pheasant. 


1876. HINDLEY, Life and Adventures 
of a Cheap Jack. Messrs. Cannon and 
Co. defied the surgeon or anybody else 
to say the fish was bad, and kept jabber- 
ing away both at the same time and in 
elegant BILLINGSGATE, until the con- 
stable returned ; but he came without the 
doctor, who had gone to attend an urgent 
case out of the town, and the people at 
his house could not say when he would 

BILLINGSGATE. To scold ; to 
talk coarsely, or violently ; to 
' slang. 1 

1678. A. LITTLETON, Lat. Diet. To 
BILLINGSGATE IT. Arripere maledictum 
ex trivio. 

FAG, i.e., rude and ill-mannered ; 
BILLINGSGATRY, scurrilous lan- 

(common). A red herring or 
bloater. This is also called a 
TWO-EYED STEAK, but for syno- 
nyms, see ATLANTIC - RANGER. 

BILL OF SALE, subs. (old). Widow's 
weeds. Such are also said to 

TO LET (q.V.). 

BILLY, subs, (thieves'). i. A pocket 
or neck-handkerchief, chiefly of 
silk. The various ' fancies ' have 
been thus described : BEL- 
CHER, darkish blue ground, 
large round white spots, with a 
spot in the centre of darker 
blue than the ground. This 
was adopted by Jem Belcher, 
the pugilist, as his ' colours,' 
and soon became popular 
amongst ' the fancy.' BIRD'S- 
EYE WIPE, a handkerchief of any 
colour, containing white spots. 
The blue bird's-eye is similar 
to the Belcher except in the 

centre. Sometimes a BIRD'S- 
EYE WIPE has a white ground 
and blue spots. BLOOD-RED 
FANCY, red. BLUE BILLY, blue 
ground, generally with white 
figures. CREAM FANCY, any 
pattern on a white ground. 
KING'S MAN, yellow pattern on 
a green ground. RANDAL'S 
MAN, green, with white spots; 
named after the favourite 
colours of Jack Randal, pugi- 
list. WATER'S MAN, sky coloured. 
YELLOW FANCY, yellow with 
white spots. YELLOW MAN, 
all yellow. For synonyms 
generally, see WIPE. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 3 
ed., p. 444. A silk handkerchief. A BILLY. 

2. (thieves'.) Stolen metal. 

3. (American thieves'.) A 
weapon used by desperadoes, 
and also by the police when 
apprehending violence or dan- 
gerous resistance on the part of 
the former when pursued. The 
construction of a BILLY varies, 
but usually it is composed of a 
piece of untanned cowhide, as 
hard as horn itself, some six 
inches in length, twisted or 
braided into a sort of handle, 
and covered from end to end 
with woollen cloth. One ex- 
tremity is loaded with three 
quarters of a pound of lead ; to the 
other is firmly attached a loop, 
large enough to admit a man's 
hand, formed of strong linen 
cord, and intended to allow the 
BILLY to hang loose from the 
wrist, and at the same time pre- 
vent it being lost or wrenched 
from the grasp of its owner. At 
close quarters, it proves a very 

" savage and formidable arm of 
defence, resembling, but being 
much more dangerous than 

Billy Barlow. *97 

Billy -Buz man. 

the ordinary slung-shot in use 
by policemen and others. 
Twelve ounces of solid lead and 
raw-hide, dashed against the 
thickest skull by a strong armed 
ruffian, would as effectually 
silence a man as an ounce of 
the same metal discharged from 
the bore of a Springfield rifle. 
It may be remarked that BILLY 
in English slang is a policeman's 
staff, a very different weapon. 

1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, Ap. 4. The 
condition of the man reported as having 
been shot twice in the head on Thursday 
afternoon, is not at all alarming. It 
transpires that his wounds are not of the 
gun-shot sort, but were inflicted with a 
BILLY in the hands of a Pinkerton man. 

4. (popular.) A policeman's 
staff; a truncheon. 

1884. Daily News, Ap. 7, p. 5, col. i. 
Anderson was first brought down by a 
pistol shot, and was then corrected with 
a BILLY, till he declared himself van- 

5. (Australian and New Zea- 
land.) A bushman's tea-pot or 

1885. G. A. SALA, in Daily Telegraph, 
Sept. 3, 5, 5. They got enough flour from 
Sydney to make their 'dampers,' and 
enough tea to boil in their BILLIES. 

1886. G. SUTHERLAND, Australia, 
p. 194. A BILLY, or small tin can, for 
boiling tea or coffee. 

1889. Illustrations, Oct., p. 22. Re- 
fusing a pressing invitation to stay and 
spend Christmas with the good people 
with whom I had been boarding, and 
heeding lightly their remarks as to 'new 
chum,' ' dangers of the bush,' ' all alone,' 
' strange country,' etc., etc., I took a look 
at the map, and packed my 'swag.' 
Now a 'swag' proper, usually contains 
blankets, towels, ' BILLY,' pannikin, and 
many other articles . . . Ibid, p. 28. The 
' BILLY ' is off, but the roadman (Irish, 
of course) gives me a grateful cup of 
beer, and accompanies me to the hotel 
another mile down the road. 

BILLY BARLOW, subs, (common). 
A street clown; a mountebank 

so called from the hero of a 
slang song. Billy was a real 
person, semi-idiotic, and though 
in dirt and rags, fancied himself 
a swell of the first water. Occa- 
sionally he came out with real 
witticisms. He was a well- 
known street character about the 
East-end of London, and died in 
Whitechapel Workhouse. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. III., p. 148. BILLY 
BARLOW is another supposed comic 
character, that usually accompanies 
either the street-dancers or acrobats in 
their peregrinations. The dress con- 
sists of a cocked-hat and red feather, a 
soldier's coat (generally a sergeant's 
with sash), white trousers with the legs 
tucked into Wellington boots, a large tin 
eye-glass, and an old broken and ragged 

These merry Andrews are 
otherwise called JIM CROWS and 
SALTIMBANCOS ; among the 
French, un pit-re. 

BILLY-BOY, subs, (nautical). A 
vessel like a galliot, with two 
masts, the fore-mast square- 
rigged. They hail mainly from 
Goole. Also called HUMBER- 


BILLY- BUTTON, subs, (rhyming 
slang). i. Mutton. 

2. (tailors'.) A contemptuous 
term for a journeyman tailor. 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 117. And there I did 
Jeremiah Stitchem to his BILLY BUTTON. 
Ibid, p. 142. A laughable sketch entitled 
BILLY BUTTON'S ride to Brentford, and 
I used to be Jeremiah Stitchem, a 
servant of BILLY BUTTON'S, that comes 
for a ' sitiation." 

BILLY-BUZMAN, subs, (thieves'). A 
thief whose speciality is silk 
pocket and neckerchiefs. [From 
BILLY, slang for a pocket-hand- 
kerchief, + BUZ MAN, slang for a 




BILLY-COCK, subs, (popular). A 
round, low-crowned hat gene- 
rally of soft felt, and with a 
broad brim. Speculation has 
been rife as to the derivation of 
the term. Murray says 'ap- 
parently the same as "bully- 
cocked," used 1721, probably 
meaning after the fashion of the 
"bullies " or hectoring " blades " 
of the period' (see quot.). A 
writer, C. K. C. in Notes and 
Queries, however [6 S., ii., p. 
355] , points out that ' these hats 
were first made for ' ' Billy Coke ' ' 
or to speak more respectfully, 
Mr. William Coke a gentleman 
well known at Melton Mowbray 
a quarter of a century ago [circa 
1853] , and used by him at the 
great shooting parties at Hoik- 
ham. The old-established 
hatters in the West-end still 
call them "Coke hats." ' Of the 
reality of the personality of 
William Coke of Melton fame 
there is, and can be no doubt, 
and although the name of the 
hat may be derived from ' bully- 
cock ,' yet the weight of evidence 
seems to be against it, unless a 
slight transference of meaning, 
very common in slang, has 
taken place. 

1721. AMHERST, Terrce Filius, No. 
46, p. 246. [A description of an Oxford 
' smart ' or dandy.] When he walks the 
street, he is easily distinguish'd by a 
stiff silk gown, which rustles in the 
wind, as he struts along; a flaxen tie- 
wig, or sometimes a long natural one, 
which reaches down below his waist ; a 
broad BULLY-COCK'D hat, or a square cap 
of above twice the usual size; white 
stockings, thin Spanish leather shoes ; 
his cloaths lined with tawdry silk, and 
his shirt ruffled down the bosom as well 
as at the wrists. Besides all which marks, 
he has a delicate jaunt in his gait, and 
smells very philosophically of essence. 

1862. Life Among Colliers, 35. I 
was told to take off my bonnet, and tie a 
BILLY-COCK [wide-awake] tight down. 

1872. FARJEON, Griff, p. 14. With 
the men, mole-skin trousers, pea-jackets, 
BILLY-COCK hats, and dirty pipes pre- 

1884. Pall Mall G., March 28, p. u, 
col. i. He wore a plaited blouse drawn 
in at the waist and a dilapidated BILLY- 
COCK hat. 

2. (Australian.) The BILLY- 
COCK of the Antipodean colonies 
differs from the English head- 
gear known by the name in 
being made of hard instead of 
soft felt, and in having a turned 
up brim. 

For synonymous terms of 
head-gear, see DEERSTALKER. 

BILLY-FENCER, subs, (thieves'). A 
marine store dealer. See FENCE. 

BILLY-GOAT, subs, (common). A 
tufted beard ; similar to that of 
a goat. 

1882. Standard, u Feb., p. 3, col. 2. 
Hair turning grey, hazel eyes, BILLY- 
GOAT beard. [M.] 

BILLY-HUNTING, subs, (thieves'). 
i. Collecting and buying old 
metal. See BILLY-FENCE. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 465. ' He goes 
tatling and BILLY-HUNTING in the coun- 
try (gathering rags and buying old 

2. Going out to steal pocket- 
handkerchiefs. See BILLY, 

BILLY NOODLE, subs. (American). 
This combination stands in 
American slang for a fellow 
whose self-conceit leads him to 
suppose himself specially attrac- 
tive to the other sex. [From 
BILLY, a male name,+ NOODLE, 
a fool.] 

BILLY-ROLLER, subs, (common). 
See quotations. 

Bim, Bimshire. 



1840. MRS. TROLLOPE, Michael 
Armstrong, ch. xiv. 'What is the 

BILLY-ROLLER ?'...' It's a long StOUt 

stick, ma'am, that's used often and often 
to beat the little ones employed in the 
mills when their strength fails.' 

1875. URE, Diet. Arts, III., 1166. 
This is the BILLY-ROLLER, so much 
talked of in the controversies between 
the operatives and masters in the cotton- 
factories, as an instrument of cruel 
punishment to children, though no such 
machine has been used in cotton-mills 
for half a century at least. [M.] 

BIM, BIMSHIRE, subs. (West 
Indian). Nicknames for a 
Barbadian and the island of 
Barbadoes. This place is also 
sometimes jeeringly called LIT- 
TLE ENGLAND, and Barbadian 
is contracted into 'BADIAN. 

1887. PATON, Down the Islands. 
Barbadoes is known all the world over 
as the little island that pays her way; 
it has never been conquered ; its people 
are enterprising and energetic, go-ahead 
and driving ; in short, the business men 
of these islands (the Caribbees). Bar- 
badian may therefore be said to mean a 
man with ' go and grit, energy and vim.' 


BINGE, subs. (Oxford Univ.) A 
drinking bout. 

DANDIES, subs, (mili- 
tary). The i yth Lancers. From 
its Colonel (Lord Bingham) 
causing the men's uniforms to 
fit so well. It is one of the 
smartest regiments of the ser- 
vice. They were also at one 
time christened the HORSE 
MARINES (q.v.). Two troops 
of this showy corps were em- 
ployed as marines on board the 
' Hermione ' frigate during some 
severe fighting in the West 
Indies. Hence the sobriquet 
now almost quite forgotten. 
But the i yth are still well- 
known as the DEATH OR GLORY 

BOYS, from their badge, which 
consists of a death's head, with 
the words, ' or glory." 

BINGO, subs, (old cant). Brandy, 
or other spirituous liquor. 
Thought by Dr. Murray to 
be a humorous formation from 
B. for 'brandy' (Cf., ' B. and 
S.') and stingo. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of Vulgar 
Tongue. BINGO, brandy. 

1830. BULWER LYTTON, Paul 
Clifford, p. 41. 

Air. ' He was famed for deeds of arms 
' Rise at six dine at two- 
Rob your man without ado 
Such my maxims if you doubt 
Their wisdom, to the rightabout ! ' 

(Signing to a sallow gentleman on the 
same side of the table to send up the 
brandy bowl.) 

1 Pass round the BINGO, of a gun, 
You musty, dusty, husky son ! ' 

(The sallow gentleman in a hoarse 


' Attie the BINGO'S now with me, 
I can't resign it yet, d'ye see ! ' 

(Attie, seizing the bowl,) 
' Resign, resign it cease your dust ! ' 
(Wresting it away, and fiercely re- 
garding the sallow gentleman.) 
' You have resigned it and you must.' 

' You have resigned it and you must.' 

1861. HUGHES, Tom Brown at Oxford, 
xxxiii. Some soda water with a dash of 
BINGO clears one's head in the morning. 

For all synonyms, see DRINKS. 

Hence BINGO BOY, a tippler ; 
a drunkard. BINGO MORT, a 
drunken woman. See MORT. 

BINGY, adj. (trading). A term 
largely used in the butter trade 
to denote bad, ropy butter ; 
nearly equivalent to VINNIED. 
It may be noted that in the 
English Dialect Society's Ches- 
tere Glossary, BINGY is given as a 
peculiar clouty or frowsty taste 
in milk the first stage of turn- 
ing sour. 

Binnacle Word. 



1857. MRS. GASKELL, Life of C. 
Bronte, ch. iv. The milk, too, was often 
BINGY, to use a country expression for 
a kind of taint that is far worse than 
sourness, and suggests the idea that it 
is caused by want of cleanliness about 
the milk pans, rather than by the heat 
of the weather. 

1860. MRS. GASKELL, Sylvia's Lovers, 
ch. xv. I've heerd my aunt say as she 
found out as summat was wrong wi' 
Nancy as soon as the milk turned BINGY, 
for there ne'er had been such a clean 
lass about her milk-cans afore that. 

BINNACLE WORD, subs, (old nau- 
tical). A fine or affected word, 
which sailors jeeringly offer to 
chalk up upon the binnacle. 

BIRCH-BROOM, subs, (rhyming 
slang). A room. 


FiT,phr. (common). Said of a 
rough, towzly head. 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and Adventures 
of a Cheap Jack, p. 90. I should like to 
know what looks worse than to see a 
young man or woman with their hair in 
and some of you chaps down there look 
as if you hadn't had your hair combed 
since last reaping time, when you did it 
with a field-rake, which is very harrow- 
ing to one's feelings. 

BIRCHIN LANE, phr. (old). To 
castigate ; to flog. A punning 
allusion to birch, a rod. C/., 
STRAP OIL, etc. 

BIRD, subs, (theatrical). Mr. H. 
J. Byron says that when a piece 
is hissed the actors say ' The 
BIRD'S there! '; the bird alluded 
to being the goose notorious 
for its hissing capacities. See 
however, BIG BIRD and GOOSE. 

Verb (old). To thieve; to 
steal ; to look for plunder. 
So used by Ben Jonson. 


BIRD-CAGE, subs, (common). i. 
A bustle, an article of feminine 
attire, used for extending the 
skirts of the dress. So called 
because at one time constructed 
of such a size and in such a 
manner as to be not altogether 
unlike an elongated BIRD-CAGE. 

1860 circa. Broadside Ballad, 'The 
ricultural Irish Girl,' verse 3. 
She has no great education, for 

She's not much past her letters ; 
But for acting like a lady, I 

Would like to see her betters : 
She does not read Ouida's works, 
Nor Bow Bells' fashions pages ; 
And she does not wear those things 

The ladies call BIRD-CAGES. 

may be mentioned canary cage ; 
backstaircase ; false hereafter ; 

puk ; un strapontin ; un lieutenant 
(a pun on tenant lieu de ce qui 
manque) ; un nuage (parcequ'il 
cache la lune ; lune = the pos- 
teriors) . 

2. (common.) A four-wheeled 
cab. For synonyms, see GROWL- 

3. (racing.) The paddock 
at the Newmarket race - course 
where saddling takes place. It 
adjoins the grand stand. 

1884. St. James's Gazette, May i, p. 
i. All the favourites were brought into 
the BIRD-CAGE. [M.] 

BIRDLIME, subs, (rhyming slang). 
i. Time. 

2. (old.) A thief. From 
the glutinous substance of the 
same name spread upon twigs 
for the purpose of catching 
birds and holding them fast. 

1705. VANBRUGH, Confederacy, V., 2. 
That BIRDLIME there stole it. 



1705. VANBRUGH, Confederacy, III., 
2. My rogue of a son has laid his BIRD- 
LIME fingers on't. 

BIRD'S-EYE WIPE, subs, (com- 
mon). A silk handkerchief 
spotted with eye-like markings. 
See also BILLY and WIPE. 

1665. PEPYS, Diary, May 14. To 
church, it being Whit-Sunday; my wife 
very fine in a new yellow BIRD'S-EYE 
hood, as the fashion is now. 

1861. HUGHES, Tom Brown at Ox- 
ford, ch. xviii. He wore a blue BIRD'S- 
EYE handkerchief round his neck. 

1883. Daily Telegraph, August 7, p. 
6, col. 2. His neckerchief was of the 
same hue [silver grey], with a light 
crimson BIRD'S-EYE. 

BIRD-WITTED, adj. (old). Incon- 
siderate ; thoughtless ; easily im- 
posed on. Grose. 

1605. BACON, Adv. Learning, II. 
(1861), 228. If a child be BIRD-WITTED, 
that is, hath not the faculty of attention, 
the mathematics giveth a remedy there- 

1650. UssHER,,4;m., VI., 360. [He] 
proved .... but a BIRD-WITTED man. 

BIRK, subs. (back slang). A 
' CRIB ' (q.v.), i.e., a house. For 
synonyms, see DIGGINGS. 

BIRTHDAY SUIT, subs, (common). 
Naked ; in Jhe BUFF (q.v.) ; in 
the suit in which Adam and 
Eve first saw each other, and 
' were not ashamed.' A French 
equivalent is s'habiller en sauvage. 

1771. SMOLLETT, Humphry Clinker, 
1. 61. I went in the morning to a private 
place, along with the housemaid, and 
we bathed in our BIRTH-DAY SOOT. 

BISHOP, subs. (old). i. A warm 
decoction of wine, orange or 
lemon peel, and sugar but 
variously compounded. Similar 
to FLIP and PURL (q.v.). 

1703. English Spy, p. 255. Most 
noble cracks, and worthy cousin trumps, 

permit me to introduce a brother of 
the togati, fresh as a new-blown 
rose, and innocent as the lilies of St. 
Clements. Be unto him ever ready to 
promote his wishes, whether for spree 
or sport, in term and out of term, 
against the Inquisition and their bull- 
dogs the town-raff and the bargees 
well-blunted or stiver cramped against 
dun or don nob or big-wig so may 
you never want a bumper of BISHOP. 

1738. SWIFT, Women Who Cry 
Oranges, wks., 1755, IV., i., 278. Well 
roasted, with sugar and wine in a cup. 
They'll make a sweet BISHOP. 

1753. The World, No. 37- Punch, 
BISHOP, cool tankard, and negus are 
equally denied me. 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. xlviii., 
p. 421. He and the landlord were drink- 
ing a bowl of BISHOP together. 

2. subs. (American). A bustle 
part of feminine attire con- 
sisting of a pad worn on the 
back part of the waist, and de- 
signed to give prominence to 
the skirt. For synonyms, see 

1848. BARTLETT, Dictionary of A meri- 
canisms, p. 42. BISHOP. An appendage 
to a lady's wardrobe, otherwise called a 

I sing the BISHOP, alias the bustle. 

1862-75. SAXE, Progress. Imperial 
Fashion decides the gravest questions 
which divide the world. 
If wrong may not, by circumstance, be 

If black cravats be more genteel than 


If, by her BISHOP, or her 'grace,' alone 
A genuine lady, or a church, is known. 

3. (common.) A chamber 
utensil ; a JERRY ; JORDAN ; and 
IT (q.v.). 

4. (Winchester College.) 
The sapling with which a fagot 
is bound together. 

Verb. i. A term among horse 
dealers, for burning marks into 
a horse's teeth, after he has 
lost them by age ; or, by other 
deceptive arts to give a good 
appearance to a bad horse. By 




BISHOPPING, a horse is made to 
appear younger than he is. The 
expression is derived from the 
name of a person who initiated 
the practice, and has no con- 
nection with ' to bishop,' a pro- 
vincialism for ' to burn." For 
synonyms, see FIG. 

1727. R. BRADLEY, Family Diet., 
vol. I., s. v. ' Horse.' This way of 
making a horse look young, is by Horse 
Coursers called BISHOPING. 

1884. ///. Lon. News, 23 August, 171, 
col. 2. To BISHOP ... a term . . . signi- 
fying the use of deceptive arts to make 
an old horse appear like a young one. 

In French the process is 
called masquer en alezan ; also 
maquiller un gayet. 

2. To murder by drowning. 
The term, now obsolete, is like 
BURKE and BOYCOTT from the 
name of an individual. A man 
named Bishop drowned a boy in 
Bethnal Green, in 1831, to sell 
the body for dissecting purposes. 

1837. BARHAM, /. L. (Account of a 
New Play). I burked the papa, now I'll 
BISHOP the son. [D.] 

1864. Athenaum, p. 559, col. i. We 
have ' to burke,' and ' TO BISHOP.' [M.] 

BISMARQUER, verb (familiar). To 
cheat ; to play foul at cards or 
billiards. A word formed from 
the name of Prince Bismarck, 
the German Chancellor, whose 
policy in 1865-6 roused the 
indignation of a large section of 
European thought. 

BIT, BITE, BYTE, subs. (old). i. An 
old cant term for money. For 
synonyms, see ACTUAL. 

1532. Use of Dice Play (Percy Soc.). 
Now waxen is he so proud of his gain, 
because he hath gotten a new chain, fyer 
new apparel, and some store of BYTE. 

1592. Defence of Conny-Catching, in 
Greene's wks. XL, 44. So some that 
would not stoope a farthing at cardes, 
would venter all the BYTE in their boung 
at dice. 

1607. DEKKER, Jests to make you 
Merie, in wks. (Grosart) II., 328. If they 
follow you in the street, and once know 
where the bung and the BIT is, as much 
as to say your purse and the money. 

1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, in 
wks. (Grosart) III., 122. To learne 
before he play what store of BIT he hath 
in his Bay, that is, what money he hath 
in his pursse. 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 
p. 149. Snack the BIT. To share the 

1834. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, bk. 
III., ch. v. He is caught he must 
' stand and deliver ' ; then out with the 
dummy [pocket book], and off with the 

2. (colloquial.) The name 
given to coins varying in value 
according to locality usually, 
however, to the silver piece of 
the lowest denomination. Four- 
penny pieces are still called BITS 
in English slang, but are more 
popularly known as JOEYS (q.v., 
for synonyms) ; and in Deme- 
rara the term is in general use 
for the same coin ; in America 
a 12^ cent piece is called a BIT, 
and a defaced 20 cent piece is 
termed a LONG BIT. A BIT is 
the smallest coin in Jamaica, 
equal to 6d. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BIT (s.) ... In the West Indies, it is 
the least piece of silver coin, which goes 
current at 7 pence half-penny. 

1875. Scribner's Magazine, July, p. 
277. For a young city, San Francisco is 
very much wedded to petty traditions. 
It clings to the BIT with a deathlike 
tenacity ; clings to it against all reason 
and against its own interests. The BIT 
is a mythical quantity. It is neither 
twelve and a half cents, nor half of 
twenty-five ; it is neither fifteen cents 
nor ten cents. If you buy a BIT'S worth, 
and throw down twenty-five cents, you 
get ten cents back ; if you offer the same 
ten cents in lieu of a BIT, you are looked 
upon as a mild sort of a swindler. And 
yet, the BIT is the standard of minimum 
monetary value. 

BITCH, subs. (low). i. An oppro- 
brious term for a woman, 




generally containing an impli- 
cation of lewdness and ' fast- 
ness.' Not now in literary use, 
though formerly so. [From its 

frimary sense of a female dog.] 
t is the most offensive apella- 
tion that can be given to an 
English woman, even more 
provoking than that of whore. 

1400. Chester PI. (1843), 181. Whom 
calleste them queine skabde BICHE ? 


1575. J. STILL, Gammer Gurton, II., 
ii. Come out, thou hungry needy BITCH. 

1712. ARBUTHNOT, John Bull (1755), 
9. An extravagant BITCH of a wife. 

1750. FIELDING. Tom Jones, bk. 
XVII., ch. iii. There was my lady 
cousin Bellaston, and my lady Betty, and 
my lady Catharine, and my lady I don't 
know who ; damn me if ever you catch 
me among such a kennel of hoop-petti- 
coated BITCHES. 

1833. MARRYAT, P. Simple (1834), 
446. You are a ... son of a BITCH. 

2. (old.) Applied, oppro- 
briously, as in sense i, to a 
man. It has long since passed 
out of decent usage. 

c. 1500. E. E. Misc. (1855), 54. He is 
a schrewed BYCHE, In fayth, I trow, he 
be a wyche. 

1675. HOBBES, Odyssey, xviii., 310. 
Ulysses looking sourly answered, You 

BITCH. [M.] 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. 
XVII., iii. It is an old acquaintance of 
above twenty years standing. I can tell 
you landlord is a vast comical BITCH, 
you will like un hugely. 

Verb (low). i. To go whor- 
ing ; molrowing ; to frequent 
the company of prostitutes. 

2. To yield, or give up an 
attempt through fear. Grose. 

3. (common.) To spoil ; to 

To STAND BITCH. To make 
tea, or do the honours of the 

tea table, or to perform a female 
part. BITCH is here used generi- 
cally for a woman. 

BITCH BOOBY, subs, (old military). 
A country girl. Grose. 

BITCHERY, subs. (low). Harlotry ; 
lewdness. [From BITCH, sense 

I, -f ERY.] 

1532-3. MORE, Confiit. Tindale, wks., 
648, col. i. Such marriage is very vn- 
lawfull leckery and plain abhominable 


1598. MARSTON, Sco. Villanie, I.,iv., 
188. He will vnline himselfe from 


1663-1704. THOMAS BROWN, Works, 
Serious and Comical, III., p. 94. Thither 
run Sots purely to be drunk that they 
may . . . forget . . . the roguery of their 
lawyers, the BITCHERY of their para- 
mours, or the ingratitude of the world. 

( ? ). STANYHURST, Description of 
Ireland, p. 14. The quip sat as unseemly 
in his mouth as for a whore to repre- 
hend BITCHERY, or for an usurer to con- 
demn simony. 

BITCH PARTY, subs, (popular). 
A party composed of women. 
Originally an Oxford term for 
a tea-party, tea being considered 
a beverage only fit for women. 
[From BITCH, a woman, + 

PARTY.] Also HEN PARTY (q.V.). 


1889. C. WHIBLEY, In Cap and Gown, 
Characters of Freshmen, p. 176. 'The 
studious freshman . . . goeth to a small 
BITCH-PARTY and findeth his gown taken 
"by mistake." ' 

BITE, subs. (old). i. An old slang 
term for money. See BIT. 

2. (old.) The female pu- 
denda. For synonyms, see MONO- 

3. An imposition ; a piece of 
humbug; a 'sell' or 'do.' Cf., 
for synonyms. The sense runs 




through all stages, from jocular 
hoaxing to downright swindling. 
Also in the sense of disappoint- 
ment, as in the old proverb ' the 
biter bit.' A man is bitten when 
he burns his fingers meddling in 
matters, which, though promis- 
ing well, turn out failures. See 

1711. STEELE, Spectator, No. 156, 
1T 2. It was a common BITE with him, to 
lay Suspicions that he was favoured by a 
Lady's Enemy. 

1721. AMHERST, Terras FiL, ix., 43. 
Sharpers would not frequent gaming- 
tables, if the men of fortune knew the 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. ix. ' It's 
all a bam, ma'am all a bamboozle and 
a BITE, that afiair of his illness.' 

1860. Sat. Review, Ap. 14, 475, 2. 
That form of practical joking, which in 
the time of 'The Spectator,' was known 
as a BITE ... in the popular slang of 
the day, is designated ' a sell.' 

1883. Daily News, Ap. 18, p. 5, col. 4. 
Lord Randolph Churchill, we fear, has 
been making Mr. Gladstone the victim 
of what, in the slang of Addison's time, 
would have been called a BITE, and what 
in the slang of our own time is called a 
' sell. 1 

4. (old.) A sharper ; cheat ; 
trickster. Cf., BILK. See ROOK 
for synonyms. 

1742. FIELDING, Miss Lucy (1762), 
176. Is this wench an idiot, or a BITE ? 
Marry me, with a pox ! 

1751. SMOLLETT, Peregnne Pickle, 
ch. xcviii. From which circumstance 
it was conjectured that Peregrine was a 
BITE from the beginning, who had found 
credit on account of his effrontery and 
appearance, and imposed himself upon 
the town as a young gentleman of 

1787. S. JENYNS, in Dodsley, III., 169. 
The fool would fain be thought a BITE. 

5. (popular.) Applied in a 
transferred sense to anybody or 
anything suspected of being dif- 
ferent to what it appears, but 
not necessarily in a bad sense. 

1846. BRACKENRIDGE, Mod.Chiv., 21. 
The jockeys suspected that the horse 
was what they call a BITE, that under the 
appearance of leanness and stiffness, 
was concealed some hidden quality of 

6. (common.) One who 
drives a hard bargain ; a ' close 

7. (familiar.) A nickname 
for a Yorkshireman. See Daily 
News, Sept. n, 1883, and York- 
shire Post, Jan. 9, 1884. 

1883. Daily News, Sept. 4, p. 5, col. 6. 
The great and puissant race known in- 
differently as ' tykes ' or BITES. 

8. (printers'.) An irregular 
white spot on the edge or corner 
of a printed page, caused by the 
frisket not being sufficiently cut 

1677. MOXON, Mech.Exerc. in Sav- 
age Diet. Print, s.v. BITE. If the frisket 
is not sufficiently cut away, but covers 
some part of the form, so that it prints 
on the frisket, it is called a BITE. [M.] 

1884. BLADES, Caxton, 130. In ' Spec- 
ulum Vitas Christi ' we actually find a 
BITE, half of the bottom line remaining 
imprinted. [M.] 

Verb (old). i. To deceive; 
cheat ; swindle ; to ' do ' or 
' take in.' In modern colloquial 
English TO SLICK or TO SELL 
(q.v.). Formerly used both 
transitively and passively ; now 
only in latter. 

1669. Nicker Nicked, in Hart. Misc. 
(ed. Park), ii., 109. Then a rook . . . 
follows him close, and engages him in 
advantageous bets, and at length worries 
him, that is gets all his money, and then 
they smile and say, ' The lamb is BITTEN.' 

1709. STEELE, Tatler, No. 12. Nay, 
he has BIT you fairly enough, that's 

1724. A Journey through England. 
Many a poor German hath been BIT by 
an ordinary or his taylor, after this man- 
ner ; they have suffered the poor wretch 
to run in debt, made him an extravagant 
bill, and then arrested him, and so 
forced him to pay their demands. 




1731. FIELDING, The Lottery, Sc. 3. 
However, Madam, you are BIT as well as 
I am ; for I am no more a lord, than you 
are a fortune. 

1822. [NARES] Love in a Barn, an 
old ballad. 
He shall not have my maiden-head, 

I solemnly do swear ; 
But I'll BITE him of a portion, 

Then marry with Ralph, my dear. 

1838. THACKERAY, Yellowplush Me- 
moirs, ch. x. ' You were completely 
BITTEN, my boy humbugged, bam- 
boozled ay, and by your old father, you 

1858. THACKERAY, Barry Lyndon, 
ch. xvii., p. 232. I have no particular 
pleasure in recalling my Newmarket 
doings. I was infernally BIT and bub- 
bled in almost every one of my transac- 
tions there. 

Hence 2. (popular.) To 
strike a hard bargain. 

3. (old.) To steal; e.g., 'to 
BITE the roger,' to steal a port- 
manteau; 'to BITE the wiper,' 
i.e., to purloin a handkerchief. 

Intj. (old.) i. Formerly an 
equivalent to the modern 
' Sold ! ' ' Done ! ' etc. 

1704. GIBBER, Careless Husband, 
Act iii. 

Ld. Mo. 'Tis possible I may not 
have the same regard to her frown that 
your Lordship has. 

Ld. Fop. That's BITE, I'm sure ; 
he'd give a joint of his little finger to be 
as well with her as I am. 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. i.). 

Miss. I'm sure the gallows groans 
for you. 

Nev. BITE, Miss ; I was but in jest. 

1714. ADDISON, Spectator, No. 514. 
It is a superstition with some surgeons 
who beg the bodies of condemned male- 
factors, to go to the gaol and bargain for 
the carcass with the criminal himself. 
. . . The fellow who killed the officer 
of Newgate, very forwardly, and like a 
man who was willing to deal, told him, 
' Look you, Mr. Surgeon, that little dry 
fellow, who has been half starved all his 
life, is now half dead with fear, can- 
not answer your purpose . . . Come, 
for twenty shillings I am your man.' 
Says the Surgeon, ' Done, there's a 
guinea.' This witty rogue took the 
money, and as soon as he had it in his 

fist, cries, ' BITE, I am to be hanged in 
chains ' 

2. (Charterhouse.) A warn- 
ing = Cave ! 


MAGGOT BITES, plir. (common), 
is to do it when the fancy takes 
one ; ' at one's own sweet 
will.' When a person acts from 
no apparent motive in external 
circumstances, he is said to have 
' a maggot in his head,' to have 
' a bee in his bonnet ' ; or, in 
French, avoir des rats dans la 
tete ; in Platt-Deutsch, to have 
a mouse-nest in his head, the 
eccentric behaviour being at- 
tributed to the influence of the 
internal irritation. Cf., APART- 

BITE ONE'S HIPS, verbal phr. (tail- 
ors'). To regret a word or 

BITE ONE'S NAME IN, verbal j>hr. 
(common). To drink heavily; 
to tipple ; also to drink greedily. 

BITE ON THE BR\D\.E.,verbalphr.(o\d). 
To be pinched in circum- 
stances ; to be reduced ; in 

BITER, subs. (old). i. A practical 
joker ; a hoaxer ; one who 
deceives ; a cheat and trickster. 
Cf., BITE. The term now only 
survives in the proverbial ex- 
pression, 'the biter bit." For 
synonyms, see ROOK. 

1669. Nicker Nicked, in Hart. Misc. 
(ed. Park), ii., 108. [BITER is given in 
a list of names of cheats and thieves'.] 

1680. COTTON, Complete Gamester, 
in Singer's Hist, Playing Cards (1816), p. 
333. Hectors, setters, gilts, pads, BITERS, 
etc., and these may all pass under the 
general appellation of rooks. 

1709. STEELE, Tatler, No. 12. A 
BITER, who is a dull fellow, that tells 

Bite the Ear. 



you a lye with a grave face, and laughs 
at you for knowing him no better than 
to believe him. 

1711. Spectator, No. 47. These 
gentlemen are commonly distinguished 
by the name of BITERS : a race of men 
that are perpetually employed in laugh- 
ing at those mistakes which are of their 
own production. 

1712. Spectator, No. 504. A BITER 
is one who tells you a thing you have no 
reason to disbelieve in itself, and perhaps 
has given you, before he bit you, no 
reason to disbelieve it for his saying it ; 
and if you give him credit, laughs in your 
face, and triumphs that he has deceived 

1812. COOMBE, Syntax, Picturesque, 
c. xix. 

Pray have you travell'd so far north, 
To think we have so little wit, 
As by such BITERS to be bit ? 

2. (old.) An amorous woman 
(sexually). C/., ATHANASIAN 


BITE THE EAR, verbal phr. (thieves'). 
To borrow. Formerly, a 
term of endearment ; to caress 
fondly. For synonyms, see 

1879. J. W. HORSLEY, in Macm. Mag., 
xl., 502. He used to want to BITE MY 
EAR (borrow) too often. 

BITE THE THUMB, verbal phr. (old). 
To make a gesture of contempt, 
which was formerly regarded in 
the light of an insult. Nares 
says the thumb in the action 
represented a fig, and the whole 
was equivalent to ' a fig for 
you.' There are several ges- 
tures of this kind. That best 
known is probably TAKING A 
SIGHT (q.v.). A similar gesture 
of contempt is used by the lower 
orders in France which, there is 
little doubt, is the ' BITING THE 
THUMB ' spoken of in Romeo and 
Juliet. The person using the 
gesture placed the nail of his 
thumb under the front teeth of 
the upper jaw, and then jerked 

the thumb forward, using at the 
same time an expression equiva- 
lent to ' I don't care that for 
you." Another contemptuous 
action is placing the thumb be- 
tween the closed fore and middle 
fingers ; while according to Dar- 
win's Expression of the Emotions, 
it appears that with the Dakota 
Indians of North America ' con- 
tempt is shown . . . conven- 
tionally by the hand being closed 
and held near the breast ; then, 
as the fore arm is suddenly 
extended, the hand is opened 
and the fingers separated from 
each other. If the person at 
whose expense the sign is made 
is present, the hand is moved 
towards him and the head some- 
times averted from him.' This 
sudden extension and opening 
of the hand perhaps indicates 
the dropping or throwing away 
a valueless object. 

1595. SHAKSPEARE, Romeo and 
Juliet, i., i. I will BITE MY THUMB at 
them ; which is a disgrace to them if 
they bear it. 

1596. LODGE, Wit's Miserie. Behold 
next I see Contempt marching forth, 
giving me the fies, WITH HIS THOMBE IN 

1638. RANDOLPH, Muses' L. Glass, O. 
PL, ix.,220. Dogs and pistols ! To BITE 
HIS THUMB at me ! Wear I a sword To 

1678. Rules of Civility, transl. from 
French, p. 44. 'Tis no less disrespectful 


way of scorn and disdain, and drawing 
your nail from between your teeth, to 
tell them you value not this what they 
can do. 

BITE UP, subs, (tailors'). An un- 
pleasant altercation. 

(thieves'). Coiner of bad 
money. [From BIT, an old cant- 
ing term for money, + FAKER, 
one who makes, or does.] Also 

Bit Faking. 


Bit of Stiff. 


and FAKER. 

BIT FAKING, subs. ( thieves' ). 
Manufacturing base coin ; coun- 
terfeiting. [From BIT + FAKE 
+ ING. See preceding.] Cf., 

BITING UP, subs, (tailors'). Griev- 
ing over a loss or bereavement. 

BIT-MAKER, subs. (old). A counter- 
feiter. See BIT-FAKER. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 3 
ed., p. 447. Coiners BIT-MAKERS. 

BIT-O'-BULL, subs. (old). Beef. 
The French say un gobet ; for- 
merly, a dainty morsel. 

BIT OF BLOOD, subs, (common). 
A high - spirited horse ; a 
thoroughbred. The derivation 
is obvious. For synonyms, see 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 

to Congress, p. 10. 

'Mong the vehicles, too, which were many 
and various, 

From natty barouche down to buggy pre- 

We twigg'd more than one queerish sort 
of turn-out, 

C N N G came in a job, and then 
canter'd about 

On a showy, but hot and unsound, BIT 


(For a leader once meant, but cast off, as 

no good). 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
II., p. 156. Not that we slacken in our 
pace the while, not we : we rather put 
the BITS OF BLOOD upon their mettle. 

BIT OF CAVALRY, subs. (old). A 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act i., Sc. 6. Tom. You are now 
at Tattersal's, Jerry, a very worthy 
fellow, who made his fortune by a horse 
called Highflyer. Jerry. Hum ! and if 
one may judge from the splendour and 
extent of his premises, he seems to be 
no small highflyer himself. Tom. You 

are right, Jerry I shall here buy a BIT 
OF CAVALRY that fs a prad, on your 

BIT OF EBONY, subs, (common). 
A negro or negress. For syno- 
nyms, see SNOWBALL. 

BIT OF FAT, subs. (common). i. An 
unexpected pecuniary advantage 
in a transaction. 

2. (printers'.) See FAT. 


BIT OF LEAF, subs, (thieves'). 

BIT OF MUSLIN, subs, (common). 
A young girl ; generally applied 
only to prostitutes. Also BIT OF 
STUFF. For synonyms, see BAR- 

BIT OF MUTTON, subs, (familiar). 
A woman ; generally, a prosti- 
tute is meant. Cf., LACED MUT- 
TON, and for synonyms, see BAR- 

BIT OF STICKS, subs. phr. (sporting). 
A corpse. For synonyms, see 

BIT OF STIFF, subs, (common). 
A bank-note, or other paper 
money ; the equivalent of money 
when not in specie, i.e., a draft 
or bill of exchange. 

1854. LEVER, Dodd Family A broad, 
I., 313. I'm sorry that BIT OF STIFF, 
meaning the bill, wasn't for five 
thousand francs. 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and A dventures 
of a Cheap Jack, p. 234. He liked to have 
the party s name written across a piece 
of paper with a stamp attached, com- 
monly called a BIT OF STIFF. 


(common). To accept a bill. 

Bit of Stuff. 


B. K. S. 

BIT OF STUFF, subs, (familiar). 
An overdressed man ; a man 
with full confidence in his 
appearance and abilities ; a 
young woman ; also called a 


1835. MARRYAT, Jacob Faithful, ch. 
xxiii. ' One night he says to me, " Will, 
come up and I'll show you a devilish fine 
PIECE OF STUFF." So I walks with him, 
and he takes me to a shop where they 
dealed in marine stores, and we goes and 
finds your mother in the back parlour." 

BIT ON. See ON. 

BITTER, subs, (popular). A glass 
of beer. 

To DO A BITTER. To drink 
a glass of bitter. Originally, 
says Hotten, an Oxford term 
varied by TO DO A BEER. 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY ('Cuthbert 
Bede '), Verdant Green, ist., III., ch. x. 
Mr. Verdant Green and Mr. Bouncer . . . 
turned into the coffee-room of 'The Mitre' 
TO DO BITTERS, as Mr. Bouncer phrased 
the act of drinking bitter beer. 

c. 1882. Comic Song, ' The West End 
Boys,' verse 3. 

Let fortune frown and friends betray, 
There's a class of men that's ever gay, 
Where some make troubles, they make 

And are known by the title of the West 

End Boys. 
They commence their evening with 


And ' How-d'ye-do, dear,' at the bars, 
1 Another BITTER, I really can't go, 
There's something about you that 

charms me so.' 

Oh, don't they like, etc. 

BITTOCK, subs, (originally provin- 
cial; now common). A distance 
of very undecided length. If a 
North countryman be asked the 
distance to a place, he will most 
probably reply, ' a mile and a 
BITTOCK.' The latter may be 
considered any distance from 
one hundred yards to ten miles. 
Also of time. [From BIT + 
OCK, a diminutive suffix.] 

1802. J. WILSON (' Congleton '), M.S. 
Let. to F. Boucher. BITTOCK, a small 
Piece or small Bit ; Cheshire. [M.] 

1816. SCOTT, Old Mortality, ch. x. 
' To Chamwood, madam ? It's unco 
late, and its sax miles an' a BITTOCK 
down the water.' 

1884. Daily News, April 15, p. 4, 
col. 7. Edinburgh University is three 
hundred years old, or rather, three hun- 
dred years and a BITTOCK. 


BIVVY or GATTER.SZ^S. (provincial). 
Beer; ' shant of BIVVY,' a 
pot or quart of beer ; probably 
from the Italian, BEVERE, BERE. 
Latin, BIBERE. English, BEVER- 

Biz, stibs. (originally American, 
now general). A vulgar corrup- 
tion for business, employment, 
or occupation. ' Good BIZ ' is 
profitable business. 

1882. Democracy, ch.vii. A number 
of gentlemen were waiting for interviews 
with the President, and among them 
was the whole Pennsylvania delegation, 
ready for BIZ, as Mr. Tom Lord remarked, 
with a wink. 

1884. Saturday Review, Jan. 5, p. 13, 
col. 2. It is satisfactory to learn from 
the conductor of the circus that BIZ is 
very fair. 

1889. Ally Sloper, Aug. 17, p. 262, 
col. i. We understand, though we 
cannot vouch for the truth of the state- 
ment, that a New York lady, moving in 
the best society, while twisting some 
worsted, hit upon the idea of applying 
a little system of her own to a larger 
field than mere yarn, so she invented a 
machine for twisting wire rope, and has 
sold the patent for 10,000 and a royalty 
upon future sales. Very good BIZ, this, 
eh ! 

B. K. 6., subs, (military). An 
abbreviation of ' barracks ' ; its 
usage is explained by quotation. 

1887. Standard, 10 Feb., p. 5, col. 2. 
B. K. s., used by officers ' in mufti,' who 
do not wish to give their address. 



Black Art. 

BLAB, subs, (vulgar). Arevealerof 
that which should be kept 
secret ; a betrayer ; a babbler. 
A depraved word ; once in 
common use, but rarely em- 
ployed now, except colloquially. 
Grose [1785] includes it in his 
Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue 
as forming part of the slang of 
his time. These remarks apply 
with more or less cogency to 
BLAB when used to signify 
loose talk or chatter, when 
employed as a verb, and to the 
various derivative compounds 
and allied forms, such as ' blab- 
ber,' 'blabbing,' 'blabbing- 
book,' etc. a taint of vulgarism 
now rests upon them all. 

BLACK ACT, subs. (American). A 
corrupted form of BLACK ART 

BLACKAMOOR-S TEETH, subs. (old). 
Cowrie shells the currency of 
some savage tribes. 

1700. W. KING, Transactioneer, p. 
36. He has shells called BLACKMOORE'S 
TEETH, I suppose . . . from their 
Whiteness. [M.] 

1719. W. WOOD, Surv. Trade, p. 334. 
Known by the Name of Cowries amongst 
Merchants, or of BLACKAMORES' TEETH 
among other Persons. [M.] 

BLACK-AND-TAN.SW&S. (vagrants'). 
Porter or stout and ale, mixed 
in equal quantities. [From 
BLACK, in allusion to the dark 
colour of porter and stout, + AND 
+TAN, i.e., of the yellowish 
brown colour of ale.] 

(American). The Southern 
States of North America. [From 
BLACK, a sobriquet for a negro, 
+ AND + TAN, a pun and an 
allusion to the slang verb ' to 
tan/to thrash or beat + COUNTRY; 

i.e., the country where the 
negroes were tanned or beaten.] 

BLACK AND WHITE, subs. phr. (collo- 
quial). The black characters 
of print or writing on white 
paper. Therefore, to put a 
thing down in BLACK AND WHITE 
is to preserve it in writing or in 
print. BLACK ON WHITE is a 

1596. JONSON, Every Man in His 
Humour, IV., ii. I have it here in 
BLACK AND WHITE. [Pulls out the war- 

1667. SHIRLEY, Love Tricks, Act 
ii., Sc. 2. Gov . [with a letter] . . . 
Alas, poor gentleman! Little does he 
think what BLACK AND WHITE is here. 

1712. Spectator, No. 286. My desire 
is, Sir, that you will be pleased to give 
us, in BLACK AND WHITE, your opinion 
in the matter of dispute between us. 

1714. Spectator, No. 616. They had 
like to have dumfounded the justice'; but 
his clerk came in to his assistance, and 
took them all down in BLACK AND 

1837. CARLYLE, French Revolution, 
pt. III., bk. II., ch. viii. His accounts lie 
all ready, correct in BLACK AND WHITE 
to the uttermost farthing. 

1874. MRS. H. WOOD, Johnny Lud- 
low, i S., No. xii., p. 202. ' A man can't 
so much as put on a pair of clean 
stockings in the morning, but its laid 
before high quarters in BLACK AND 
WHITE at mid-day by the secret police ! ' 

BLACK-ARSE, subs. (old). A kettle ; 
a pot. [From BLACK, from its 
colour, + ARSE, the posterior, 
hinder, or 'bottom 1 part.] 

BLACK ART, subs. (old). i. Picking 
of locks ; burglary. For syno- 
nyms, see CRACK. 

1591. GREENE, Conny-Catch., wks., 
1883, II., x., 72. I can set down the sub- 
tiltie of the BLACKE ART, which is 
picking of lockes. 

1608. DE.KKER,BelmanofLond.,\vks., 

1884-5, HI., 137. This BLACKE ART. . . . 

is called in English, Picking of Lockes. 




1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BLACK ART, the art of 
picking a lock. 

1811. Lexicon Balatroniciim. [The 
definition given is the same as that of 
Grose, as above-mentioned.] 

2. (undertakers'.) The busi- 
ness of an undertaker. Cf., 

1861. SALA, Seven Sons of Mammon, 
i., p. 78. Rich men's funerals in the first 

Style Of BLACK ART. 

BLACK-BALL, verb (common). See 

BLACKBALLING, subs, (nautical). 
Stealing or pilfering. A sailor's 
word. It originated amongst 
the employees of the old Black 
Ball line of steamers between 
New York and Liverpool. The 
cruelty and scandalous conduct 
of officers to men and sailors 
to each other were so pro- 
verbial, that the line of vessels 
in question became known all 
over the world for the cruelty 
of its officers, and the thieving 
propensities of its sailors. 

BLACKBEETLES, subs. (old). The 
lower strata of society. [Ap- 
parently a term of contempt 
derived from the cockroach, 
generally called a blackbeetle.] 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 6. Jerry : Tom, 
here's a group of BLACKBEETLES do you 
see those lovely mendicants ? Tom : 
Beauty in rags I do Cupid imploring 
chanty. I'll relieve him, for I'll be after 
that match-girl directly. Jerry: And I'll 
chant a few words to that beautiful 
ballad-singer. Lo%: And I'll take pity 
on that charming beggar. 

mon). A person who hawks 
tapes, boot-laces, etc. 

BLACKBIRD, subs, (popular). For- 
merly an African captive on 
board a slaver ; now generally 
understood as referring to a 
Polynesian indentured labourer, 
who, if not by name a slave, is 
often one to all intents and pur- 
poses. [Obviously derived from 
the black or dark-brown colour 
of these people.] 

1881. Chequered Career, p. 180. The 
white men on board knew that if once 
the BLACKBIRDS burst the hatches . . . 
they would soon master the ship. [M.] 

Verb. To capture negroes 
or Polynesians ; to kidnap (see 
subs.). Hence the verbal sitb- 
stantive and ppl. adj. BLACK- 
BIRDING, in the same sense. 

1883. Graphic, April 21, p. 398, col. i. 
The day is not far distant when, to 
avoid BLACKBIRDING, and the revengeful 
massacres which these kidnappers pro- 
voke, the whole of Oceania will have to 
be placed under civilised control. 

1883. Academy, 8 Sep., p. 158. [He] 
slays Bishop Patteson by way of reprisal 
for the atrocities of some BLACKBIRDING 
crew. [M.] 

1884. Pall Mall Gazette, 19 Aug. p. 
2, col. 2. Years ago BLACKBIRDING 
scoundrels may have hailed from Fiji. 



BLACK-BIRDERS, subs, (popular). 
See quotation. 

1883. All the Year Round, 22 Sep., 
p. 355. BLACKBIRDERS, the kidnappers 
for labour purposes on the islands of the 

BLACK Box, subs. (old). A lawyer. 
So given in Grose [1785] ; 
Lexicon Balatronicum [1811]; and 
in Buncombe's Sinks of London 
[1848]. [From the black tin 
boxes in which clients' papers 
are kept.] 

BLACK-BOY, sttbs.(old). See BLACK- 

Black Bracelets. 

Black Dog. 

BLACK BRACELETS, subs. (old). 
Handcuffs. For synonyms, see 


Sheppard [1889], p. 63. 

When the turnkey, next morning, 
stepped into his room, 

The sight of the hole in the wall struck 
him dumb ; 

The sheriffs BLACK BRACELETS lay strewn 
on the ground, 

But the lad that had worn 'em could no- 
where be found. 

Tol-de-rol ! 

BLACK-CATTLE, subs, (popular). i. 
Clergymen ; parsons. [From the 
prevailing hue of the garments 
worn by the profession.] Some- 
. times used in the same way as 
RED-COATS for soldiers, e.g., 

BLACK-COATS (q.V.) \ also DEVIL 

DODGERS, the latter of which, 
see for synonyms. 

2. (old.) Lice. These are 
also called ACTIVE CITIZENS and 
CHATES (q.v.). 

BLACK-CATTLE SHOW, subs, (popu- 
lar). A gathering of clergymen. 
[From BLACK-CATTLE (q.v.) -f 
SHOW, in its slang sense of a 
party or meeting.] 

BLACK-COAT, subs, (familiar.) A 
parson. Cf., BLACK-CATTLE and 

1627. R. PERROT, Jacob's Vow, 52. 
Let us take heed how these BLACK- 
COATES get the day of us. [M.] 

1671. EACHARD, Observations, p. 176. 
Suppose we should bestow upon a poor 
low thinking BLACK-COAT, one of our 
best forms, such as follows; it is five to 
one he would commit some ecclesiastical 
blunder or other, in setting his name 
too near. 

1818. SCOTT, Heart of Midlothian, i. 
You are the BLACK-COAT'S son of Knock- 

1870. EMERSON, Soc. and Solit., ix., 
p. 197. The BLACK-COATS are good com- 
pany only for BLACK-COATS. [M.] 

BLACK-CUFFS, subs, (military). 
The Fifty-eight Foot, from the 
regimental facings which have 
been black since 1767. They 
have also been nicknamed THE 
STEEL BACKS (q.v.). 

BLACK DIAMONDS, subs, (popular). 
i. Coals. [A simile in allu- 
sion to the colour, and also to the 
fact that both coal and dia- 
monds are carbon.] 

1849. T. MILLER, in Gabarni in 
London, p. 43. Were he even trusted 
with the favourite horse and gig to fetch 
a sack of BLACK DIAMONDS from the 

2. Also formerly a rough but 
clever or good person ; this 
sobriquet, however, has given 
place to ROUGH DIAMOND (q.v.). 

BLACK DOG, subs. (old). i. Ap- 
plied, circa 1702-30, to a coun- 
terfeit shilling and other base 
silver coinage. In this con- 
nection it may be pointed out 
that black had long previously 
been applied to base money. 
Ruding, in his Annals of the 
Coinage [London, 1817, vol. I., p. 
405], having mentioned black 
money, appends this note ' Qy. 
Turonenses Nigri . p Copper 
money struck at Tours.' [See 
Turney's infra. Qy. corrupted 
from Tierney, name of maker.] 
It is introduced in his account of 
the Statute of Money, passed at 
York, 1335, 9 cap., Edward III., 
which recites that all manner of 
black money which had been 
commonly current in the king's 
realm and obeisance should be 
utterly excluded, so as not to be 
current in one month after 
proclamation, on pain of for- 
feiture of the same. Later on, 
in 1339, a certain black money 
called ' turneys ' was made by 

Black Dog. 



certain persons in Ireland, who 
circulated it to the injury of the 
king's sterling money, and to 
his no little loss and prejudice. 
Proclamation had, therefore, 
been ordered to be made to pro- 
hibit the circulation of it, on 
pain of forfeiture of money and 
goods. But the king having 
been informed that great incon- 
venience had arisen from this 
prohibition on account of the 
scarcity of sterling money, it 
was, therefore, commanded that, 
provided it should be found on 
due inquiry more advantageous 
to the public to allow the cur- 
rency of the said black money, 
proclamation should be made to 
authorise it until a sufficient 
quantity of other money was 

1706. LUTTRELL, in Ashton's Reign 
Queen Anne, II., p. 225. The Art of 
making BLACK DOGS, which are shillings, 
or other pieces of money made only of 
Pewter, double wash'd. [M.] 

1724. SWIFT, Drapier's Lett., wks. 
1755, V., ii., 44. Butcher's half-pence' 
BLACK-DOGS, and others the like. [M.] ' 

2. (common.) Delirium tre- 
mens ; the horrors; 'jim jams.' 
BLACK DOG is a frequent figu- 
rative expression dialectically 
for depression of spirits, and 
melancholy. Among the ancients 
a black dog and its pups were 
considered an evil omen. For 
synonyms, see GALLON DIS- 

1861. HUGHES, Tom Brown at Ox- 
ford, ch. xxxiii. 'Yes, sir,' said the 
butler, nodding, ' D.T., sir. After one of 
his rages the BLACK DOG comes, and it's 
hawful work ; so I hope you'll go, sir." 


phr. (old) .- -Not to blush at all ; to 
be shameless. See also BLUSH. 

1634. WITHAL, Dictionary, p. 557 
[ ed. 1634 ] . Faciem perfricuit. He 


hath a brazen face. 


1835. CHARLES DICKENS, Sketches 
by Boz, p. 174. [Speaking of a marine- 
store shop] : imagine, in addition to this 
incongruous mass, a BLACK DOLL in a 
white frock, with two faces one looking 
up the street, the other looking down, 
swinging; over the door. 

1838. DOUGLAS JERROLD, Men of 
Character, II., p. 100. Five hundred 
articles, among which might be found 
knockers, scrapers, barbers' poles, BLACK 


1861. Cornhill Magazine, Nov., p. 
609. The best price given for old rags- 
inquire at the sign of the BLACK DOLL. 


A BLACK EYE, phr. (old). To 

empty it. C/., DEAD MAN. 

BLACK-EYED SUSAN, subs. (Ameri- 
can). Texan for a revolver. 
Among other slang equivalents 
for this weapon current in the 
Lone Star State may be men- 
nyms, see MEAT IN THE POT. 

BLACK-FLY, subs. (old). A con- 
temptuous name for a clergy- 
man. For synonyms, see DEVIL- 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. The 
greatest drawback on the farmer is the 
BLACK FLY, i.e., the parson who takes 
tithe of the harvest. 

BLACKFRIARSI intj. (thieves'). An 
exclamation of warning; look 
out ! beware ! See THIEVES. 

BLACKGUARD, subs, (common). A 
man coarse in speech, and 
offensive in manner ; a scamp ; 
a scoundrel ; a disreputable 
fellow. The term, as now used, 
is one of the utmost oppro- 
brium, and although a good 




deal of uncertainty hangs about 
its history and derivation, it 
seems pretty clear that a cer- 
tain amount of odium has 
always been attached to the 
word. Between two of its 
primary significations, how- 
ever, (i) a kitchen knave or 
scullion, and (2) a guard of 
attendants, black in person, 
dress, or character, generally 
in reference to the devil's body- 
guard and the modern usage, 
there is a somewhat marked 
line to be drawn. The earliest 
mention is as follows : 

1532. MS. Churchwarden's A ccompts. 
St. Margaret's, Westminster (Receipts for 
burials). Item Recey vid for the lycens of 
iiij. torchis of the BLAKE GARDE vjd. 

What this guard was is not 
definitely known. Some have 
suggested that it was a body of 
soldiers ; others that it was a 
band of torch bearers at fune- 
rals ; while some incline to the 
belief that it was comprised of 
street link-boys. 

Better supported by evidence 
are the senses first mentioned, 
in which BLACKGUARD signifies 
(i) a scullion, and (2) a member 
of the devil's body-guard. But 
here too, Murray points out 
that it would be difficult to 
assign priority. First, how- 
ever, let the quotations be given 
in sets : 

SENSE i = a scullion. 

Aug., in Cal. State Papers. Two of the 
ring-leaders had been some time of the 
BLACK GUARD of the king's kitchen. [M.] 

1579. FULKE, Rcfut. Kastel, 779. 
They ought not, nor yet any of the 
scullerie or BLACKE GARDE. [M.] 

SENSE 2 = Devil's body-guard ; also 
other attendants. 

1583. FULKE, Defence, x., 386. Pela- 
gius, Celestins, and other like heretics 
of the devil's body-guard. [M.] 

1609. DEKKER, Lanthorne and Can- 
dlelight, wks. [1884-5] HI-, 214. The 
Great Lord of Limbo did therefore com- 
maund all his BLACKE GUARD that stood 
about him, to bestirre them. [M.] 

Comparing these one with 
the other, we are clearly face to 
face in one set of quotations 
with a popular superstition a 
belief of an age when witchcraft 
was prevalent, and when hob- 
goblins and the like were as- 
signed as BLACK GUARDS to his 
Satanic Majesty. Whether 
there was any connection in the 
popular mind between the King's 
scullions and the Devil's body- 
guard, cannot now be definitely 
stated. Still, it is probable ; 
and this view is borne out by 
later references. It is curious 
to note the concluding lines 
of Hudibras' Address to Ralpho, 
which may perhaps explain the 
process by which the term of 
BLACK GUARD may have come to 
be applied to the lowest class of 
domestics in the royal kitchens 
or other great establishments. 
Still, as stated, priority cannot 
be given to either ; moreover, 
the use of BLACK GUARD in either 
sense may have been a mere 
play on words, whether of i on 
2, or 2 on i is equally uncertain. 
The quotation from Hudibras 
is as follows : 

1678. BUTLER, Hudibras, pt. III., 
canto i, line 1403. 

I do believe thee, quoth the knight ; 
Thus far I'm sure thou'rt in the right, 
And know what 'tis that troubles thee, 
Better than thou hast guess'd of me. 
Thou art some paltry, BLACKGUARD sprite, 
Condemn'd to drudg'ry in the night; 
Thou hast no work to do in th' house, 
Nor half-penny to drop in shoes ; 
Without the raising of which sum 
You dare not be so troublesome ; 
To pinch the slatterns black and blue, 
For leaving you their work to do. 
This is your business, good Pug Robin, 
And your diversion, dull dry bobbing. 




So also the following : 

1655. FULLER, Church History 
[1845], vol. V., p. 160. For who can 
otherwise conceive but such a prince- 
principal of darkness must be propor- 
tionately attended with a BLACK GUARD of 
monstrous opinions. 

The BLACK GUARD of Satan, 
argues a writer in Notes and 
Queries [Sir J. Emmerson Ten- 
nent, N. and Q., i S., vii., 78], 
was supposed, in the popular 
view, to perform the drudgery 
of the kitchen and servants' 
hall in the infernal household. 

1588-1628. HOBBES, Microcosimis, 
vol. II., p. 134. Since my lady's decay 
I am degraded from a cook, and I fear 
the devil himself will entertain me but 
for one of his BLACKGUARDS, and he 
shall be sure to have his roast burnt. 

Hence came the popular 
superstition that these goblin 
scullions, on their visits to the 
upper world confined them- 
selves to the servants' apart- 
ments of the houses which they 
favoured with their presence, and 
which at night they swept and 
garnished ; pinching those of 
the maids in their sleep who, 
by their laziness, had imposed 
such toil on their elfin assist- 
ants ; but slipping money into 
the shoes of the more tidy and 
industrious servants whose at- 
tention to their own duties 
before going to rest had spared 
the goblins the task of perform- 
ing their share of the drudgery. 
In allusion to this is Gifford's 
note on Ben Jonson's plays 
[vol. II., p. 170], 

In all great houses, but particularly in 
the Royal Residences, there were a 
number of mean dirty dependents, 
whose office it was to attend the wool- 
yard, sculleries, etc. Of these, the most 
forlorn wretches seem to have been 
selected to carry coals to the kitchens, 
halls, etc. To this smutty regiment, who 
attended the progresses, and rode in the 

carts with the pots and kettles, which, 
with every other article of furniture, 
were then removed from palace to 
palace, the people, in derision, gave the 
name of BLACK GUARDS ; a term since 
become sufficiently familiar, and never 
properly explained. 

Many other references also 
go to prove the connection in 
the popular mind, so far as 
usage is concerned, between the 
two significations. In all this, 
however, the peculiarly con- 
temptuous odium attached to 
the word in modern times is 
absent, and between the old 
and the modern significations 
a sharp line may, as already 
stated, be drawn. 

The earliest reference to 
BLACKGUARD as applied to a 
vagabond or loafer occurs in 
1683. Since that time the word 
seems gradually to have become 
more and more depraved, until 
its present meaning of a low, 
worthless fellow, one open to, 
and ready for any villainy 
has been reached. The follow- 
ing quotations will well repay 
comparative study. 

1683. MS., in Lord Steward's Office, 
Windsor Castle [N. and Q., i S., ix., 
p. 15] . 7 May, Whereas of late a sort oi 
vicious, idle, and masterless boys and 
rogues, commonly called the BLACK- 
GUARD, with divers other lewd and loose 
fellowes, vagabonds, vagrants, and wan- 
dering men and women, do usually haunt 
and follow the Court. 

1695. CONGREVE, Love for Love, Act 
iii., Sc. 10. Or if that won't do, I'll bring 
a Lawyer that shall out-lye the Devil : 
and so I'll try whether my BLACK-GUARD 
or his shall get the better of the day. 

1744. Nov. 26, WALPOLE, Lett, to 
Mann (1833), II., 57. The whole stage 
filled with BLACKGUARDS, armed with 
bludgeons and clubs. 

1780. Parody on the Rosciad, etc., 
p. 13. Like him I'm a BLACKGUARD and 

1788. G. A. STEVENS, Adv. of a 
Spectilist, i., 59. As BLACK-GUARDS at 



Black Job. 

Newmarket meeting bawl about the lists 
of horses. 

1874. MRS. H. WOOD, Johnny Lnd- 
low, i S., No. iii., p. 37. ' I must request 
you to be a little more careful in your 
language. You have come amidst gentle- 
men here, not BLACKGUARDS.' 

Adj. Of or pertaining to a 
blackguard ; to the scum or re- 
fuse of society ; vile ; vicious. 

1760. SMOLLETT, SirL. Greaves, vol. 
II., ch. ix. He is become a BLACKGUARD 

1803. C. K. SHARPE, in Correspon- 
dence (1888), I., 178. His friends were 
ill-natured, and behaved like BLACK- 
GUARD beasts. 

Verb. To act like a ruffian ; 
to use filthy, scurrilous language; 
to play the vagabond or scoun- 

1855. THACKERAY, Ncwcomes, ch. 
xxix. ' I have been called names, and 
BLACKGUARDED quite sufficiently for one 

So also with other deriva- 
tives and compounds BLACK- 

1781. G. PARKER, View of Society, 
I., 124. The talent of common BLACK- 

1849. C. KINGSLEY, Alton Locke, ch. 
v. I was awakened by being shoved 
through the folding-doors of a gin-shop, 
into a glare ol light and hubbub of BLACK- 

1861. H. KINGSLEY, Rayenshoe, ch. 
xxvi. ' I beg your pardon, sir, for saying 
that ; I said it in a hurry. It was BLACK- 

1883. WILLIAM MORRIS, reported 
in Illust. London News, March 10, 
p. 243, col. 3. Almost all ordi- 
nary wares now made by man were 
shabbily and pretentiously ugly . . . 
Not even the pine-trees and gardens 
could make the rich men's houses 
at Bournemouth tolerable. They were 
simply BLACKGUARDLY ; and even as 
he spoke they were being built by the 

BLACK HOLE, subs. (Anglo-Indian). 
Cheltenham, from the num- 

ber of retired Anglo-Indians 
who live there. C/., ASIA 

1878. Notes and Queries, 5 S., x., p. 
234, col. i. Gained for Cheltenham the 
. . . title of THE BLACK HOLE. 

BLACK HORSE, subs, (military). 
A nickname of the Seventh 
Dragoon Guards, so called from 
the regimental facings, black 
on scarlet. Occasionally the 
epithet is shortened into THE 
BLACKS. During the reign of 
George II., the corps was 
GUARD, and is now often called 

BLACK HOUSE, subs, (trade). A 
place of business where hours 
are long, and wages at starva- 
tion rates ; a sweating house. 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 234. I have men- 
tioned that the BLACK HOUSES or linen- 
drapers at the west end of London, were 
principally supplied from the east end. 

BLACK INDIES, subs. (old). New- 
castle-on-Tyne, from its wealth 
in coal. The term is now 
obsolete, but it was in common 
use at the latter part of the 
eighteenth century. 

BLACK JACK, subs. (Winchester 
College). A large leathern jug 
for beer, holding two gallons. 
The term was not peculiar to 
Winchester ; in olden times 
JACKS were common every- 

(?) Simon the Cellarer. But oh, oh, 
oh ! his nose doth show, How oft the 
BLACK JACK to his lips doth go. 

BLACK JOB, subs, (common). A 
funeral. Mr. H. J. Byron, in 
his annotated copy of the 
Slang Dictionary states ' it was 

Black Joke. 


Black Man. 

the late Lord Portsmouth's 
hobby to attend all the BLACK 
JOBS he could hear of.' [From 
BLACK, in reference to the 
sombre trappings of funerals + 
1866. YATES, Land at Last, I., p. 

101. ' What, a funeral mute ? ' ' Yes, 

Sir, BLACK-JOB business,' etc. 

BLACK JOKE, subs. (old). The 
female pudenda. See MONO- 
SYLLABLE for synonyms. Said 
to have been the burden of an 
obscene song, circa 1811. 

BLACKLEG, subs, (common). i. 
A turf swindler ; a rook ; a 
welsher ; also one who cheats 
at cards or billiards. Origin 
unknown ; although many 
speculations have been hazarded , 
none are satisfactory. See LEG. 

1771. B. PARSONS, Newmarket, II., 
163. The frequenters of the Turf, and 
numberless words of theirs are exotics 
everywhere else; then how should we 
have been told of BLACKLEGS, and of 
town-tops . . . taken in . . . beat hollow, 
etc. [M.I 

1774. COLMAN, Man of Business, I., 
in wks. (1777) II., 133. Countesses and 
semptresses, lords, aldermen, BLACK- 
LEGS, and Oxonians. 

1812. COOMBE, Dr. Syntax, Pictur- 
esque, ch. x. The crowd with their com- 
mission pleas'd, Rudely the trembling 
BLACK-LEG seiz'd, Who, to their justice 
forc'd to yield, Soon ran off dripping 
from the field. 

1830. S. WARREN, Diary of a Late 
Physician, ch. xv. ' Mr. T is pur- 
suing quite disgraceful courses all night 
and day, squandering away his money 
among sharpers and BLACKLEGS.' 

2. A workman who, when 
his fellows are on strike, is 
willing to go on working. An 
opprobrious term. Cf., BLACK- 
NOB and SCAB. 

1865. Pall Mall Gazette, 29 Oct., p. 7. 
If the timber merchants persist in put- 
ting on BLACKLEGS, a serious disturbance 
will ensue. [M.] 

3. Also by another transference 
of meaning applied to any one 
failing, or refusing to join his 
fellows in combination for a 
given purpose. 

1889. Pall Mall Gazette, Nov. 21, p. 5, 
col. i. It was stated at the meeting that 
the master bakers were much behind the 
journeymen in the matter of organisation, 
and the difficulty of maintaining the price 
against unscrupulous bakers at ' a living 
figure ' was emphasized. The question 
of the preparation of a list of master 
baker 'BLACKLEGS' was also touched 
upon. These men are selling bread at 4jd. 
the quartern, and at even a lower rate. 

Verb (tailors'). Amongst the 
fraternity of ' snips,' TO BLACK- 
LEG is used as synonymous with 
'to boycott' i.e., to make 
things so uncomfortable for a 
man that he is compelled to 
leave his work or the town. 

To BLACKLEG iT,phr. (trades'). 
Amongst trades' union men to 
return to work before the causes 
of a strike have been removed, 
or settled to the satisfaction of 
the leaders. 

1888. Baltimore Herald, May 6. Early 
this morning the mountain paths leading 
to the William Pen colliery were lined 
with men, dinner in hand, determined to 
go to work. Some were non-union 
miners, while the remainder were 
Knights of Labor who had determined 
TO BLACKLEG IT, regardless of the jeers 
and threats of their companions. 


subs. (common). Cheating ; 
swindling ; the arts and practices 
of a BLACKLEG (q.v. sense i). 

1832. MAGINN, in Blackwood's Mag., 
XXXII., 427. From following any pro- 
fession save the Army, the Navy, Black- 
apronry and BLACK-LEGGERY. [M.] 


subs, (old). The devil. For 
synonyms, see SKIPPER. 

1606. DEKKER, in Newes from Hell, 
in wks. (Grosart) II., 113. [Old Nick 
called the BLACK GENTLEMAN.] 




1861. G. MEREDITH, Evan Harring- 
ton, ch. iii., p. 23 (1885). ' Rich as 
Croesus, and as wicked as the BLACK 
MAN below ! as dear papa used to say.' 


BLACK MARIA, subs, (popular). A 
prison van or omnibus, used for 
the conveyance of prisoners. 
The origin of the phrase is un- 
known, but BLACK is obviously 
from the dark and sombre 
colour of HER MAJESTY'S CAR- 
RIAGE as it is sometimes jocu- 
larly called. This view is also 
supported by the fact that a 
variant is SABLE MARIA (see 
quot.). Julian Marshall, in 
Notes and Queries [6 S., vii., p. 
355] suggests that the term 
MARIA may be allied to ' Mari- 
nated,' transported to some 
foreign plantation, and ' mar- 
ried,' persons chained or hand- 
cuffed together, in order to be 
conveyed to gaol [Grose has 
this, as also has the Lexicon 
Balatronicum}. In marinated 
evident allusion is made to the 
compulsory voyage ; in married 
to the forced wedlock of convict- 
ism. BLACK MARIA may, there- 
fore, possibly be a corruption of 
one or the other, or both terms. 
A writer on slang states that the 
term is said to have originated in 
Philadelphia in 1838, but gives 
no evidence in support of the 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. ii., p. 61. On alighting from the 
' SABLE MARIA ' we were ushered through 
a door into a long white-washed passage, 
with cells on one side. 

1880. G. R. SIMS, Three Brass Balls, 
pledge xvii. It is the time when BLACK 
MARIA, the prison van, stands waiting at 
the door, and the signal is given that the 
prisoners are coming out. 

1889. Answers, Feb. 9. There are 
two kinds of BLACK MARIAS. One is 
called the night van and the other the 

day. The passengers politely term them 
' mails.' The day van holds eighteen 
passengers not including the driver and 
warder, and the night van a dozen. The 
vans are divided into two halves, and on 
each side are small compartments about 
two feet square with a seat and door, 
which is carefully locked. 

NYMS may be mentioned : Le 
courrier du Palais (a thieves' 
term : courrier, a post or mail 
+ Palais, an abbreviated form 
of Palais de Justice, a police 
court or sessions house) ; un 
panier a salade (familiar : ' a 
salad basket ' ) ; le courrier de la 
prefecture (thieves' : Cf., courrier 
du Palais. Prefecture the office 
of a chief magistrate) ; I 'omnibus 
pegres (in slang un pegre signi- 
fies 'a thief); un guimbard 
(thieves' : une guimbarde is pro- 
perly ' a long cart ' ) ; le service du 
chateau (roughs' and thieves' : 
' the prison service ' ; chateau = 

For other synonyms, see HER 

BLACK-MONDAY, subs, (old). I. A 
schoolboys' term for the Mon- 
day on which, after holidays, 
school re-opens. Obviously 
called black, from the reluctance 
with which young hopefuls turn 
their backs upon the sweets of 
home and play. BLACK FRIDAY 
was used of the day on which 
Overend, Gurney & Co., sus- 
pended payment loMay, 1886. 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones,' bk. 
VIII., ch. xi. She now hated my sight, 
and made home so disagreeable to me, 
that what is called by school-boys BLACK 
MONDAY was to me the whitest in the 
whole year. 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice Versa, ch. i. 
There comes a time when the days are 
grudgingly counted to a BLACKER MON- 
DAY than ever makes a schoolboy's heart 
quake within him. 



Blacksmith's Daughter. 

2. (popular.) The Monday 
on which the death penalty is 
carried out ; these events are 
generally arranged to fall on the 
day in question. 

BLACK-MUMMER, subs. (old). An 
epithet applied to one unwashed 
and unshorn. 

BLACK-NOB, subs, (trades' union). 
A non-unionist ; one who, while 
his fellows are on strike, per- 
sists in working at his trade ; a 
BLACKLEG (q.v.}. [Apparently 
a humorous variant of BLACK- 
LEG. From BLACK = wicked, 
atrocious, + NOB, the head, in 
place of leg in BLACKLEG.] 
They are also called KNOB- 
STICKS and SCABS (q.v.). 

BLACK OINTMENT, subs. (American 
thieves'). A term for uncooked 

BLACK- POT, subs. (old). A toper ; a 
tippler. [Beer mugs were called 


hence, probably, a transference 
of the name from the utensil to 
the drinker.] 

1594. GREENE, Fr. Bacon, v., 122. 
I'll be Prince of Wales over all the 
BLACK-POTS in Oxford. 

1636. HEYWOOD, Love's Mistr., II. 
lugg, what's shee but sister to a BLACK- 

1818. SCOTT, Heart of Midlothian, 
xxxii. A whole whiskin, or BLACK-POT 
of sufficient double ale. 

PSALM, phr. (old). To cry; a 
saying used to children. Grose. 


BLACK SAL or SUKE, subs, (popu- 
lar). A kettle. See SUKEY for 

BLACK SATURDAY, subs, (workmen's). 
A Saturday on which an arti- 
san or mechanic has no money 
to take, having anticipated it by 
advances. Cf., BLACK MONDAY 

BLACK-SHEEP, subs, (common). 
A mildly opprobrious term for 
a scapegrace ; a ' bad lot ' ; 
1 un mauvais sujet.' It is also 
applied like BLACKLEG and 
BLACK-NOB to workmen who 
persist in working when their 
comrades are on strike. The 
word is hardly slang now. 

1864. LE FANU, Uncle Silas, ch. 
xxvi. 'Your Uncle Silas had injured 
himself before that in the opinion of the 
people of his county. He was a BLACK 
SHEEP, in fact. Very bad stories were 
told and believed of him.' 

1874. M. COLLINS, Frances, ch. 
xxxvii. ' In all cities there are BLACK 
SHEEP, but in a city like London, sound 
finance is the rule, I am sure.' 

1876. BESANT AND RICE, Golden 
Butterfly, ch. xxviii. ' Many companies, 
perfectly sound in principle, may be 
ruined by a sudden decrease in the price 
of shares ; a panic sets in, and in a few 
hours the shareholders may lose all. 
And if you bring this about by selling 
without concert with the other favoured 
allottees, you'll be called a BLACK SHEEP. 

Verb (Winchester College). 
When a fellow in ' Junior Part ' 
got above (or 'jockeyed') a 
fellow in ' Middle Part.' 


(popular). A key. Formerly 
the key with which the doors 
of sponging houses were un- 
locked. Also LOCKSMITH'S 
DAUGHTER, which see for syno- 

1859. C. DICKENS, Tale of Two Cities. 
Place it under the care of the BLACK- 

1864. Reader [quoted in N. and Q., 
5 S., ix., 263], BLACKSMITH'S DAUGHTER. 

Black-Spice Racket. 219 


A key. I have never met with this word 
in print, but have heard it frequently in 

BLACK-SPICE RACKET, subs. (old). 
The practice of robbing chim- 
ney sweepers of their tools, 
bag, and soot. Lexicon Bala- 

BLACK SPY, subs. (old). A cant 
name for the devil. The French 
equivalent is ledache. For syno- 
nyms, see SKIPPER. 

BLACK-STRAP, subs, (common). 
i. Thick, sweet port. A con- 
temptuous term, in allusion to 
its dark colour, STRAP being an 
old name for wine. (See quot.). 

1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, 
in wks. (Grosart) III., 131. Sometimes 
likewise this Card-cheating, goes not 
vnder the name of Bernard's Lawe, but 
is called Bait fowling, and then ye Setter 
is the Beater, the foole that is caught in 
the net, the bird, the Tauerne to which 
they repaire to worke the Feate, is the 
Bush ; the wine the STRAP, and the cardes 

1821. MONCRIEFF, Tom and Jerry, 

?. 3. Tom (taking his seat): Gentlemen, 
beg pardon for being scarce so long; 
but having to start early, I thought it best 
to see that the toggery was all right and 
fly I never shirk the BLACK STRAP inten- 
tionally, you know. Jerry : Don't men- 
tion it, my dear Tom. 

1853. WH. MELVILLE, Dtgby Grand, 
ch. x. The orator gets deeper into his 
subject, till an extremely abrupt con- 
clusion . . . empties every bumper of 
' BLACK STRAP ' like a shot. 

2. (American.) Properly 
speaking, gin mixed with mo- 
lasses, but frequently applied 
to a compound of any alcoholic 
liquor with molasses. Beverages 
of this description were at one 
time the commonest of drinks 
among agricultural labourers. 

1882. PINKERTON, Molly Maguires 
and Detectives, p. 84. From the great iron 
kettle a savory incense arose; it came 
from an admixture of high-wines and 

common molasses, in about the propor- 
tion of one gallon of the latter to four of 
the spirit. . . . The seething BLACKSTRAP 
was pronounced ready for use. It rapidly 
disappeared, and, as it diminished and 
was imbibed, the fun and hilarity pro- 
portionately increased. 

3. (old.) A task of labour 
imposed on soldiers at Gibraltar 
as a punishment for small 
offences. Grose. 

YOUR EYE, phr. (old). To ac- 
cuse ; to find fault with. The 
phrase was varied by BLACK'S 


more modern rendering is BLACK 


1528. ROY, Sat. (1845). They eate 
their belies full .... And none sayth 


1583. STUBBS, Anatomic of Abuses, 
p. 65. And then no man say BLACKE is 
THEIR EYE, but all is well, and they as 
good Christians, as those that suffer them 

Love's Cure, iii., i. I can say BLACK'S 
YOUR EYE, though it be grey ; I have 
conniv'd at this your friend, and you. 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, IX., iv. 
The house is well known to be a house of 
as good reputation as any on the road, and, 
though I say it, is frequented by gentry 
of the best quality, both Irish and Eng- 
lish. I defy anybody, to say BLACK is 
MY EYE, for that matter. 

BLACK-TEAPOT, subs, (popular). 
A negro footman. 

BLACKWORK, subs. (common). 
Undertaking. The waiters met 
with at public dinners are often 
employed during the day as 
mutes, etc. Omnibus and cab 
drivers regard BLACKWORK as un 
dernier ressort. See BLACK-JOB. 

1859. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. xxvi. A florid man who officiates as 
a waiter at the London Tavern o'nights, 
and sometimes takes a spell in the BLACK 
WORK, or undertaking line of business. 

Bladder of Lard. 220 


BLADDER OF LARD, subs, (popular). 
A bald-headed person. [From 
the supposed similarity of the 
smooth, hairless cranium to a 
bag or bladder of lard.] 

1886. Athenceum, July 31, p. 142. An 
elderly Jew money-lender, whom she 
afterwards describes to her admiring 
friends as a BLADDER OF LARD, a graceful 
reference to his baldness and tendency 
to stoutness. 

BLADE, subs, (common.) A royst- 
erer ; a gallant ; a sharp, keen 
fellow ; a free and easy, good 
fellow. [Probably from BLADE, 
a sword, a soldier. There 
seems no warrant for supposing 
the word connected with the 
Dutch bloed, or with the term 
' blood,' a dandy, in use in the 
time of the Georges in a some- 
what similar sense ; indeed, the 
following quotations show a 
much older usage. In French 
a ' sly BLADE ' is called un 

1595. SHAKSPEARE, Romeo and 
Juliet, ii., 4. The pox of such antic, 
lisping, affecting fantasticoes ; these new 
tuners of accents ! By Jesu, a very good 
BLADE ! a very tall man ! 

Ball, Act iv. 
This came first o' keeping company with 

the BLADES, 
From whom I learnt to roar and run 


1636. DAVENANT, The Wits, Act v. 

The old BLADE 

Skulks there like a tame filcher, as he had 
New stolen 'bove eggs from market- 

1637. FLETCHER, Elder Brother, 
I., ii. 

If he be that old 
Rough testy BLADE he always used to be. 

1664. PEPYS, Diary, Jan. 4. For suf- 
fering his man (a spruce BLADE) to be so 
saucy as to strike a ball while his master 
was playing in the Mall. 

1667. PEPYS, Diary, Tune 3. With 
his hat cocked like a fool behind, as the 
present fashion among the BLADES is. 

1698. FARQUHAR, Love and a Bottle, 
Act iv., Sc. 2. These London BLADES are 
all stark mad ; I met one about two hours 
ago, that had forgot his name, and this 
fellow would persuade me now, that I 
had forgot mine. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BLADE (s.) .... is sometimes used to 
signify a beau, spark, or hectoring fellow. 

1773. O. GOLDSMITH, She Stoops to 
Conquer, Act L, Sc. 2. 'A troublesome 
old BLADE, to be sure ; but a keeps as 
good wines and beds as any in the whole 

1860. DICKENS, Great Expectations, 
ch. xxiv., p. 115. 'He forged wills, this 
BLADE did, if he didn't also put the sup- 
posed testators to sleep too.' 

1883. Broadside Ballad, ' Happy 
Thoughts,' st. 4. 

My Uncle Dowle has lots of money ; 
He's a very knowing looking BLADE. 

BLAMED, ppl. adj. (popular). An 
expletive used to emphasize a 
statement. It partakes of the 
nature of an oath, being often 
used instead of ' doomed ' or 
' damned.' In America the 
expression is more of a collo- 
quialism than it is in England. 

1835. HALIBURTON ('Sam Slick'), 
The Clockmaker, 3 S., ch. vi. Yes, John 
Bull is a BLAMED blockhead. 

1872. S. CLEMENS, Roughing It, ch. 
ix. The keeper had fired four times at an 
Indian, but he said with an injured air, 
that the Indian had ' skipped ' around 
so's to spile everything and ammu- 
nition's BLAMED skurse too. 

1873. CARLETON, Farm Ballads, p. 

And so that pourin" dissentions in our 

And so that BLAMED cow-critter was 

always coming up. 

1888. Detroit Free Press, Oct. 6. 
' Did you see any Quakers in Philadel- 
phia ? ' was asked of a Detroiter who lately 
returned from that city. ' Only one that I 
was sure of.' ' Did he " thee " and " thou" 
you ? ' ' He did. He got down off his hack 
and said : " If thee don't pay me 2 dols. 
I'll knock thy BLAMED head off," and I 
paid, although I knew the regular fare 
was twelve shillings. You don't want 

Blame It ! 


Blarm Me ! 

to fool with those Quakers any, and don't 
you forget it. 

1888. Portland Transcript, May 9. 
' Why do you object to your daughter 
marrying?' 'Wouldn't object ef she 
wuster marry the right sorter man.' 
' Isn't Tom the right sort of man ? ' ' Not 
by a BLAMED sight.' 

BLAME ITI intj. (common). A 
round-about oath. Equivalent 
to ' Damn it ! ' [A transferred 
sense of BLAME.] 

BLAMENATIONI intj. (common). 
Damnation ! See OATHS. 

(common). Euphemistic oaths, 
the derivation of which is 
clearly an outcome of the prac- 
tice of representing an oath, 
for decency's sake in printing, 
by a dash or blank space; e.g., 

d d. The terms are used in 

America in many combinations 
(see quots.). Cf., OATHS. 

1857. C. DICKENS, Farce for the 
Championship, in All the Year Round. 
Enter a closely shaven, bullet-headed 
fellow in an ecstasy of excitement at 
having just seen Cuss, and at the ex- 
quisite ' fitness ' of that worthy. ' So 
help me BLANK, BLANK ! ' he cries delight- 
edly, ' if he ain't a BLANK picter with the 
weins in his face down 'ere and 'ere, 
a showin" put just if a BLANK hartist "ad 
painted him. Tell yer he's beautiful, 
fine as a BLANK greyhound, with a BLANK 
heavy air with him that looks BLANK like 
winnin'. Take yer two quid to one, 
guv'nor,' adds the speaker, suddenly 
picking out a stout purple-faced farmer 
in the group of eager listeners. 

1873. C. READE, Simpleton, xxiii. 
BLANK him! that is just like him ; the 
uneasy fool ! [M.] 

1878. MRS. EDWARDES, Jet iii., 272. 
' the colonel of the regiment!' ex- 
claims Mark. . . ' BLANK the colonel 
of the regiment ! ' With slow, unmis- 
takable gusto she lingers over the mono- 
syllable 'BLANK.' [M.] 

1879. BRET HARTE, Gabriel Conroy, 
in Hallberger's Illustrated Magazine, vol. 
I., p. 378. Because you're religious, BLANK 

you, do you expect me to starve? Go 
and order supper first! Stop! Where 
in BLANK are you going? Here you've 
been and gone three hours on an errand 
for me, and blame me if you ain't runnin' 
off without a word about it. 

1888. Troy Daily Times, Feb. 3. The 
captain looked anxious, and an irate 
fellow-passenger, who had not ceased 
swearing since we left Tuxpan, declared 
by all that is sacred and profane that he 
had known vessels to be hindered thirty 
days ; yes, even three months, by that 


1888. Owosso (Mich.) Press, April. 
' Doctor, I'm a dead man ! ' ' Not right 
now ? ' said I, as I kicked his dog out. 
'Just as good as dead,' said he, 'or you 
wouldn't kick that dog in that way with 
safety. Not by a BLANKETY BLANK BLANK 
sight.' 'Needn't waste so much profanity, 
Mr. Starkhill,' said I. 

(old). A wife. For synonyms, 
see DUTCH. 

BLANKET FAIR, subs, (popular). 

BLANKET HORNPIPE, subs, (com- 
mon). Sexual commerce. The 
allusion is obvious. C/., BASKET 

BLARMED, ppl. adj. (common). A 
euphemism for BLESSED (q.v.) ; 
' damned ' ; ' BLOWED ' (q.v.) ; or 
BLAMED (q.v.), of the last of 
which it is probably a cor- 
ruption. See OATHS. 

1867. No Church, I., 104. To be in 
a BLARMED hurry. 

1872. JOHN FORSTER, Life of Dickens, 
ch. xxxi. (III., p. 191). He saw a strange 
sensation among the angry travellers 
whom he had detained so long ; heard a 
voice exclaim, ' I am BLARMED if it ain't 
Dickens ! ' and stood in the centre of a 
group of Five A mericans ! 

BLARM ME ! intj. (common). 
A euphemistic oath. See 




BLARNEY, subs. (colloquial). 
Blandishment; soft speech, or 
' sawder ' ; gross flattery ; ' gam- 
mon.' [From Castle Blarney 
in Ireland, in the wall of which, 
difficult of access, is placed a 
stone. Whoever is able to kiss 
this is said thereafter to be 
able to persuade to anything. 
BLARNEY is from bladh-ey, 
flowery island, and this may have 
some connection with the 
curious tradition. On the other 
hand, according to Brewer, 
Cormack Macarthy held the 
Castle of Blarney in 1602, and 
concluded an armistice with 
Carew, the lord president, on 
condition of surrendering the 
fort to the English garrison. 
Day after day his lordship 
looked for the fulfilment of the 
terms, but received nothing ex- 
cept protocols and soft speeches, 
till he became the laughing- 
stock of Elizabeth's ministers, 
and the dupe of the lord of 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. He has licked the BLARNEY 
stone ; he deals in the wonderful, or tips 
us the traveller. 

1839. LEVER, Harry Lorrequer, ch. 
xix. They were as cunning as foxes and 
could tell BLARNEY from good sense. 

c. 1876. Broadside Ballad, 'A nice 
young thing.' 
Such a nice young thing, such a sweet 

young thing, 
Her name was Kate Carney, she came 

from Killarney, 
So full of her BLARNEY, but fond of her 

Such a fair young thing, a rare young 

And just for a lark she had dyed her hair 

And they called her the Colleen Dhu. 

1884. RUSKIN, in Pall Mall Gazette, 
17 Nov., p. n, col. 2. It was bombastic 
English BLARNEY not Irish. [M.] 

The French have baliverne and 
pelotage with the same mean- 

Verb. i. To wheedle; to 
coax ; to flatter grossly. 

2. (American thieves'.) Be- 
sides the English slang significa- 
tion of ' to wheedle,' it also bears 
the secondary meaning, among 
the low and criminal classes of 
America, of ' to pick locks.' 

BLART OUT, verb (American, 
? nonce word). A corruption of 
' blurt out ' ; to utter abruptly. 

1835. HALIBURTON ( ' Sam Slick'), 
The Clockmaker, pref., p. v. It warn't 
the part of a gentleman for to go and 
pump me arter that fashion, and then go 
right off and BLART IT OUT in print. 
Ibid, ch. viii. And there are others again 
who BLART RIGHT OUT whatever comes 

BLASE, adj. (common). Used up ; 
exhausted with enjoyment ; sa- 
tiated. [From French blaser, 
of unknown derivation.] Its 
extended colloquial use in Eng- 
land is explained in second 

1823. BYRON, Don Juan, ch. xii., st. 81. 
A little BLASE 'tis not to be wondered 
At, that his heart had got a tougher rind, 
And though not vainer from his past 
success, No doubt his sensibilities were 

1883. G. A. SALA, in Illustrated 
London News, March 10, p. 235, col. 3. 
There should be a chronology of slang. 
It is about forty years ago, I think, that 
the great popularity of a French farce 
called 'L'Homme BLASE' brought the 
word into colloquial use in England ; 
indeed the first translation of the French 
piece (at the Princess's, Wright, the low 
comedian, playing the hero,) was called 
BLASE, with some sub-title that I forget. 
Subsequently another translation was 
produced, Charles Mathews playing the 
principal character. As a title for this 
version, we borrowed a slang term from 
the Americans, and ' L'Homme BLASE ' 
became ' Used Up'! 

BLAST, verb (low). To curse ; to 
damn. An expression of repro- 
bation and hatred. Used in 


22 3 Blayney's Bloodhounds. 

such combinations as BLAST 
EYES ! etc. See OATHS. 

1654. CHAPMAN, Revenge for Honour, 
V., ii. And thus I kiss'd my last breath. 
BLAST YOU ALL ! Ta. Damn'd des- 
perate villain ! 

1752. FIELDING, Amelia, bk. X., ch. 
v. ' I don't know what you mean by 
ominous,' cries the colonel ; ' but, BLAST 
MY REPUTATION, if I had received such a 
letter, if I would not have searched the 
world to have found the writer.' 

1759. GOLDSMITH, Cit. of the World, 
lett., 105. 'BLAST ME!' cries Tibbs, ' if 
that be all, there is no need of paying for 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 
viii. ' Hands, Captain MacTurk ! ' ex- 
claimed Sir Bingo, in some confusion ; 
'no, BLAST HIM not so bad as that 

BLASTED, ppl. adj. (low). Exe- 
crable ; confounded ; often sub- 
stituted for ' damned,' 'bloody,' 
it being thought a milder form. 
for an abandoned rogue, and 


titute. [From BLAST, q.v.] See 

1682. DRYDEN, Medal, 260. What 
curses on thy BLASTED Name will fall. 

1750. CHESTERFIELD, Letters, 8 Jan. 
(1870), 169. Colonel Chartres . . . who 
was, I believe, the most notorious 
BLASTED rascal in the world. [M.] 

1874. PUSEY, Lent. Sermons, 79. 
Balaam after the success of his BLASTED 
counsel. [M.] 

1884. Good Words, Nov., p. 767, 
col. i. Jim Black states that the 
BLASTED railway has done away with 
those journeys. 

BLATANTATION, subs. (? nonce 
word). Noisy effusion ; swag- 
ger. [From BLATANT, noisy, 
offensively clamorous, -f ATION.] 

1833. Graphic, Feb. 24, p. 199, col. 
3. On the ground betting men are con- 
spicuous with their books, BLATANTA- 
TION s, blackguardism, and swell clothes. 

B LATER, subs. (old). A calf. 
[Probably a corruption of 
' bleater,' from its cry.] 

1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. ii [list of cant words in]. BLATER, a 

1827. LYTTON, Pelham, ch. Ixxxii. 
Don't be glim-flashy; why you'd cry 
beef on a BLATER. 

BLATHER, subs, (familiar). Noisy 
talk; voluble nonsense. Cf., 

1864. E. YATES, Broken to Harness, 
ch. xxix., p. 309 (1873). 'There's a letter 
there from Sir Mordaunt, askin' for more 
time, and promisin' all sorts of things ; 
but I'm sick of him and his BLATHER.' 

Verb. To talk volubly; noisily; 
nonsensically. See BLETHER. 

1884. W. C. RUSSELL, Jack's Court- 
ship, ch. xxiv. Mrs. O'Brien was 
BLATHERING about the pedigree of the 
O'Briens and the O' Shandrydans to Mrs. 

BLATHERSKITE, subs, (common). 
i. Boastful disputatious swag- 

2. A swaggerer ; boaster ; 
one who talks volubly and non- 
sensically. Cf., BLETHERSKITE. 

1888. New York Herald, July 29. 
Every BLATHERSKITE republican is filled 
to the brim and spouting high protection, 
while the democrats are not prepared to 
meet them for want of documents. 

1888. Chicago Watchman. Dr. 
Brookes, of St. Louis, must be a nice man 
to live with. He refers to Dr. R. W. 
Dale and Dr. Parker as ' blatant BLATHER- 
SKITES,' and evidently regards Professor 
Drummond as beyond reformation. 

(military) . The Eighty-ninth 
Foot. They obtained this nick- 
name during the Irish Rebellion 
in 1798. [BLAYNEY, from their 
Colonel's name + BLOODHOUNDS 
from their skill in tracking Irish 
rebels.] They also earned for 
themselves the sobriquet of THE 




ROLLICKERS, in allusion to the 
1 jolly doggish ' bearing of the 

BLAZE, subs, and verb (common). 
In some of the usages of this 
word, the precincts of slang are 
narrowly touched, even if the 
boundary line is not crossed ; as 
e.g., when a man is said to 
BLAZE his way through the laby- 
rinths of the metropolis. The 
original meaning is well known. 
The early settlers in traversing 
the vast forests which abounded 
on the American continent, 
found it very necessary to mark 
their route. This they did by 
the simple expedient of BLAZ- 
ING the trees at convenient 
distances. BLAZING consists 
merely in chopping a piece of 
the bark off each tree selected 
in the desired line of march. 
The mark itself is called a 
BLAZE. In addition to this, 
BLAZING was also adopted as 
an indication that the land 
within the limits of the trees 
thus marked had been appro- 
priated by a settler a rude 
and informal, but, in early days, 
a thoroughly well recognised 
method of securing a title to 
the land. Some writers affect 
to derive the word from the old 
French blazon, the armorial bear- 
ing of the Normans, and quote 
the use of 'blazen,' by Shaks- 
peare, in a sense not altogether 
dissimilar to the meaning con- 
veyed by BLAZING, as proof to 
this effect. 

It is employed generally in 
America and all English-speak- 
ing colonies. The following 
quotations will exemplify its 
use both in the original and 
more figurative senses. See 

1737. WESLEY, wks. (1872) I., 68. 
We then found another BLAZE and pur- 
sued it. [M.] 

1883. BRET HARTE, In the Carquints 
Woods, ch. viii. ' I made a blaze here- 
abouts to show where to leave the trail. 
There it is,' he added, pointing to a slight 
notch cut in the trunk of an adjoining 
tree. . . . They proceeded cautiously 
at right angles with the BLAZED tree for 
ten minutes more. 

BLAZE-AWAY, intj. (common). 
Look sharp ; ' stir your stumps ' 
an injunction to renewed and 
more effective effort. 

BLAZER, subs, (popular). Origi- 
nally applied to the uniform of 
the Lady Margaret Boat Club 
of St. John's College, Cam- 
bridge, which was of a bright 
red and was called a BLAZER. 
Now applied to any light jacket 
of bright colour worn at cricket 
or other sports. Prof. Skeat 
[N. and Q.,j S.,iii., 436] speak- 
ing of the JOHNIAN BLAZER, 

says it was always of the most 
brilliant scarlet, and thinks it 
not improbable that the fact 
suggested the name which sub- 
sequently became general. 

1880. Times, June 19. Men in spot- 
less flannel, and club BLAZERS. [M.] 

1885. Punch, June 27, p. 304. On 
the morning of the start for our ' Spin to 
Brighton,' Harkaway turns up clad in 
what he calls a BLAZER, which makes him 
look like a nigger minstrel out for a holi- 

1889. Daily Neivs, Aug. 22, p. 6, col. 
your article of to-day, under the above 
heading, you speak of ' a striped red and 
black BLAZER,' ' the BLAZER,' also of ' the 
pale toned ' ones. This is worth noting 
as a case of the specific becoming the 
generic. A BLAZER is the red flannel 
boating jacket, worn by the Lady Mar- 
garet, St. John's College, Cambridge, 
Boat Club. When I was at Cambridge 
it meant that and nothing else. It seems 
from your article that a BLAZER now 
means a coloured flannel jacket, whether 
for cricket, tennis, boating, or seaside 
wear. Yours faithfully, WALTER WREN. 




BLAZES, subs, (general). The 
infernal regions. This, an allu- 
sion to the flames of hell, was 
the original meaning ; constant 
use, however, has lessened the 
force of the expression, and as 
in the case of ' bloody,' few who 
employ such flowers of oratory 
have any notion of the proper 
signification. In most cases the 
word is now a meaningless in- 
tensitive, and takes rank with 
such expressions as LIKE ONE 


The verb TO BLAZE is likewise 
employed in a manner closely 
bordering on slang. Thus one 
says of an action that it is a 
blazing shame ; that he has a 
blazing headache ; that so-and- 
so is a blazing thief ; that such 
a job is blazing hard work ; that 
it is a blazing hot day all 
figurative uses of the legitimate 
idea. Appended are illustra- 
tions of some of its usages. 

(Common.) The brilliant 
habiliments of flunkeys. De- 
rived from the episode of Sam 
Weller and the ' swarry.' 

OLD BLAZES, subs, (common). 
The devil. For synonyms, 

1849. Southern Literary Messenger, 
June. He looked, upon my word, like 
OLD BLAZES himself, with his clothing 
all on fire, and rage and despair in his 

Go TO BLAZES, phr. (common). 
Go to the devil ; go to hell 
expressions of contempt used in 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 135. He jumps 
through a trap in the window with a 
bottle on it, marked ' Old Tom,' and 
a scroll falls down, written GONE TO 

1861. THACKERAY, Adventures of 
Philip, I., p. 99. Old Parr Street is 
mined, sir mined ! And some morning 

we shall be blown into BLAZES, into 
BLAZES, sir, mark my words ! 

1862. MRS. RIDDELL ( ' F. G. Traf- 
ford'), Too Much A lone, p. 200. ' Has no 
one been here this afternoon?' 'Yes, 
one man, to ask his way to BLAZES, or 
some place else.' 

1880. S. CLEMENS (' Mark Twain '), 
Sketch (Mr. Skae's Item). I could have 
told Johnny Skae that I would not 
receive his communication at such a 
late hour, and to GO TO BLAZES with it. 

1882. JAS. PAYN, in 'A Failure of 
Justice', in Glow Worm Tales, p. 97. 'Sir,' 
cried I, authoritatively, ' let me tell you 
I am a Middlesex magistrate.' ' Oh, yes : 
a likely story ! ' was his audacious reply. 
' You've got 'Ighbury Barn written on 
your countenance you have, GO TO 
BLAZES ! ' and he slammed down the 

LIKE BLAZES, adv. phr. (popu- 
lar). Vehemently; with ex- 
treme ardour. See ANYTHING 
and WINKEY. 

1845. B. DISRAELI, Sybil or The Two 
Nations, p. 330. Syllabubs LIKE BLAZES, 
and snapdragon as makes the flunkeys 
quite pale. Ibid, p. 369. ' They pelted the 
police . . . ' ' And cheered the red-coats 
LIKE BLAZES,' said Mick. Ibid. She sets 
her face against gals working in mills 


1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 159. She liked this 
very much, in fact so much, that the 
other little ones used to cry LIKE BLAZES 
because I wouldn't let them have a turn 
at them [the stilts] . 

1859. CHAS. DICKENS, Tale of Two 
Cities, I., p. 15 (in parts). A BLAZING 
strange answer. 

1864. J. LAWRENCE, Guy Livingstone 
or Thorough. They hate each other LIKE 

18(?). DE QUINCEY, Spanish Nun, 
sect. 24. The horse was so maddened by 
the wound, and the road so steep, that he 


How, WHO, or WHAT THE 
BLAZES, phr. (popular). A 
somewhat more intense inter- 
rogatory than Who or What 
or- even Who or What the 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, ch. lv., p. 
479. ' Pell,' he used to say to me many a 



Bleating Prig. 

time, ' HOW THE BLAZES you can stand 
the head-work you do, is a mystery to 

1884. W. C. RUSSELL, Jack's Court- 
ship, ch. xvii. ' WHO THE BLAZES would 
recognise Jack Seymour in those shore- 
going duds ? ' 

BLAIZERS, phr. (common). 
Very drunk ; what is vulgarly 
called ' beastly ' drunk. Whether 
this expression follows the de- 
rivation of the examples given 
above, or whether we must 
seek its origin in a totally differ- 
ent direction, is a matter of 
some doubt. The alternative 
derivation suggested is that the 
phrase is really DRUNK AS 
BLAIZERS, an expression which 
dates back at least to 1830 
[N. andQ., 6 S., i., 434]. Sir 
Thomas Wyse, in Impressions 
of Greece, speaking (see Life 
of Richard Waldo Sibthorp, by 
J. Fowler, 1880, p. 227) of the 
reverence for St. Blaize, in 
Greece (who is also, as is 
known, the patron saint of the 
English woolcombers) , and how 
his feast was observed in the 
woollen manufactories of the 
Midland Counties, says, ' Those 
who took part in the pro- 
cession were called BLAIZERS, 
and the phrase AS DRUNK AS 
BLAIZERS originated in the con- 
vivialities common on those oc- 
casions ! So good ' Bishop and 
Martyr ' Blaize is dishonoured 
as well as honoured in England, 
and very probably in Greece. 
Further data may be found in 
Chambers ' Book of Days, vol. I., 
pp. 219-20. 

BLEACH, verb (Harvard Univer- 
sity.) To absent oneself from 
morning prayers. HALL'S Col- 
lege Words and Phrases. 

BLEA-CHED MORT, subs. (old). A fair 
complexioned wench. Grose. 
[From BLEACHED, white or fair, 
-f MORT, a girl or woman.] 

BLEAK, adj. (American thieves'). 
In the phraseology of American 
thieves, BLEAK means hand- 

BLEATER, subs. (old). The victim 
of a sharper or rook. In the 
following quotation a JACK IN 
THE BOX (g.v.) is an old thieves' 
term for a swindler or cheat. 

1609. DEKKER, Lanthorne, wks., 
1884-5, III., 290. They that are Cheated 
by lacke in a Boxe are called BLEATERS. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BLEATERS, those cheated 
by Jack in a Box. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicwn. (Same 
definition given.) 

BLEATING CHEAT, 57/65. (old). A 
sheep. Grose. [In the old cant 
CHEAT or CHETE [from Anglo- 
Saxon cent] signified a thing; 
and the names of animals 
were frequently formed by 
adding an adjective descriptive 
of their peculiar noise or cry. 


a pig ; a CACKLING CHEAT a 

fowl ; a BLEATING CHEAT a 

sheep.] A sheep is also called 
a WOOL-BIRD (q~v.). Among 
French thieves this animal is 
designated nne morne. 

BLEATING CULL, subs. (old). A 
sheep stealer. [From BLEATING, 
see preceding, -f- CULL, a man, 
honest or otherwise.] 

BLEATING PRIG or RIG, 5&5. (old). 
Sheep stealing. [From BLEAT- 
PRIG, or RIG, the act of stealing.] 


22 7 Bleed the Monkey. 

BLEED, verb tr. andintr. (popular). 
i. To be victimised ; to lose 
or part with money so that the 
loss is felt ; to be ' RUSHED ' (q.v.) ; 
to have money drawn or extorted 
from one. [An allusion to the 
loss sustained by parting with 
one's life blood.] 

1668. DRYDEN, An Evening's Love, 
Act iv., Sc. i. In fine, he is vehement, 
and BLEEDS on to fourscore or an hun- 
dred ; and I, not willing to tempt fortune, 
come away a moderate winner of two 
hundred pistoles. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BLEED (v.) .... also to part with money 
freely, upon proposing something agree- 
able to a person's disposition, whether it 
be in gaming of anything else. 

1751. SMOLLETT, Peregrine Pickle, 
ch. Ixvi. To whom he was particularly 
agreeable, on account of his person, 
address, and BLEEDING freely at play. 

1830. S. WARREN, Diary of a Late 
Physician, ch. xxii. The reputed readi- 
ness with which she BLED, at last 
brought her the honour of an old 
countess, who condescended to win 
from her, at two sittings, very nearly 

1849. THACKERAY, Pendennis, ch. 
Ixviii. 'You have got a bill of sale for 
her furniture ... By Jove, sir, you've 
BLED that poor woman enough.' 

1885. Manchester Evening News, 
23 June, p. 2, col. 2. Men who give bills 
have to BLEED for the accommodation. 

2. (printers'.) A book 
BLEEDS when the margins are 
' planed ' down so that the edge 
of the printed portion is cut 

1876. Daily Telegraph, June 9, p. 2, col. 
i. So very carelessly has the mechanical 
part of production been done that, in the 
phraseology of the craft half technical, 
half slang the pages BLEED in many 
places i.e., the binder's knife when 
cutting the edges has also cut away 
portions of the printed matter. 

BLEEDER, subs. (University). i. 
A duffer beyond compare ; a 

superlative fool, (common). 
A euphemism for ' bloody 

2. (sporting.) A sovereign. 
For synonyms, see CANARY. 

3. (old.) A spur; an ob- 
vious allusion. 

BLEEDING, adj. An expletive, 
which, if meant, would partake 
of the nature of an oath ; as it 
is there is little enough, sanguin- 
ary, either literally or meta- 
phorically about much that is 
described as BLEEDING. It 
sounds big and weighty to those 
who use it, and that suffices. 

1877. BESANT AND RICE, Sow of 
Vulcan, pt. II., ch. xxiii. ' When he isn't 
up to one dodge -he is up to another. You 
make no BLEEDING error.' 

BLEEDING CULLY, subs. (old). 
One who parts easily with his 
money, or bleeds freely. Grose. 
{See BLEED.] 

BLEED THE MONKEY, verbalphr. (nau- 
tical). To steal rum from the 
mess tub called ' the monkey.' 
The term is exclusively naval, 
' monkeys ' not being known on 
merchant ships. The practice 
is also called SUCKING THE 


1889. Chambers' Journal, 3 Aug., 

p. 495. TO SUCK THE MONKEY is a 

phrase explained in Peter Simple as hav- 
ing originally been used among sailors 
for drinking rum out of cocoa-nuts, the 
milk having been poured out and the 
liquor substituted. It is now applied to 
the act of drinking on the sly from a cask 
by inserting a straw through a gimlet 
hole, and to drinking generally. Barham, 
in the legend of the Black Mousquetaire 
What the vulgar call SUCKING THE 

Has much less effect on a man when he's 





BLENKER, verb (American). To 
plunder. A cant phrase much 
used during the Civil War. 
Possibly allied to the northern 
provincialism ' blenk,' a trick 
or stratagem. ' Blenk ' was 
also used in Morte d' 'Arthur in 
the sense of ' to bilk," or 'cheat. 1 

BLESS, verb (popular). To curse; 
to damn. See BLESSED. 

To BLESS ONESELF, verbal plir. 
(common). To be surprised; 
to be vexed ; to be mortified. 
Generally, ' God bless me ! ' or 
1 Bless my eyes ! ' ' Bless my 
soul ! ' ' Lor' bless me ! ' 

1592. SHAKSPEARE, Midsummer 
Night's Dream, iv., 2, n. Quin : Yea, 
and the best person too : and he is a very 
paramour, for a sweet voice. Flu : You 
must say, paragon : a paramour is, GOD 
BLESS us, a thing of nought. 

1615. T. ADAMS, Black Dev., 71. He 

. . . Would BLESSE HIMSELFE tO think 

that so little a thing could extend itself 
to such a capacity. [M.] 

1665. PEPYS, Diary, i Apr. How 
my Lord Treasurer did BLESS HIMSELF, 
crying he could do no more, etc. 

1759. STERNE, Tristam Shandy, ch. 
xl. Rub your hands thrice across your 
foreheads blow your nose cleanse 
your emunctories sneeze, my good 
people ! GOD BLESS YOU. 

1814. Miss AUSTEN, Mansfield Park, 
ch. xviii. Could Sir Thomas look in upon 
us just now, he would BLESS HIMSELF, 
for we are rehearsing all over the house. 

1843. DICKENS, Christmas Carol, p. 
77. ' Why, BLESS MY SOUL,' cried Fred, 
1 who's that? ' 

1853. BULWER LYTTON, My Novel, 
I., p. 307. After they had lain apart for a 
little while, very silent and sullen, John 
sneezed. ' GOD BLESS YOU ! ' says Joan, 
over the bolster. 

SELF WITH, phr. (popular). 
Utterly impecunious ; ' without 
a sou.' 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
I., p. 237. He landed there WITHOUT A 


1849. DICKENS, David Coppcrfield, 
I., p. 113. I heard that Mr. Mell was not 
a bad sort of fellow, but HADN'T A SIX- 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 55. The most of 


1861. GEORGE ELIOT, Silas Marner, 


phr. (common). To thank one- 
self ; to attribute one's good 
fortune to luck, generally in a 
ludicrous sense. 

1845. HOOD, Pauper's Christmas 
Carol, iii. Ought not I to BLESS MY STARS ? 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 230. Forty-eight marks! a 
week's remission. The very thought 
made me savage, but I BLESSED MY 
STARS I had not lost my class, or my 
good berth. 

BLESSED, BLEST, ppl. adj. (popular). 
An ironical euphemism ; often 
used like BLAZING for ' cursed," 
' damned, ' etc. , or as a vow. See 
quot. from Hindley and OATHS. 

1806. WINDHAM, Let. in Speeches 
(1812), I., 77. As one of the happy con- 
sequences of our BLESSED system of 
printing debates, I am described to-day 
... as having talked a language directly 
the reverse of that which I did talk. [M.] 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 139. One 
Maidstone Fair time, I saw one of the 
gipsy Lees called 'Jemmy,' fighting with 
a man much bigger than himself. Tom 
Rosseter, the mumper, was seconding his 
brother-in-law, Jemmy Lee, when, as 

Iemmy kept throwing his man very 
eavily, he said, ' My dear BLESSED 
brother, don't throw the BLESSED man 
like that or you will be sure to kill him.' 
' Well," said Jemmy, ' but my dear 
BLESSED brother, if I don't kill the dear 

BLESSED man, why the big BLESSED 

will be sure to kill me, and so I must 
keep on throwing the dear BLESSED man, 
for you see what a BLESSED big dear 
fellow he is to me.' 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 245. 'They called in the 
coppers, and some feller in the shop 
twigged my old girl as one he'd a-seen 




before, and BLESSED if they didn't iden- 
tify her as having lifted some things out 
of the shop, and she was pinched for 
seven "stretch." ' 

1882. Punch, Aug. 5, p. 49. Sir 
Potnpcy Bedell: 'Oh! er Mr. Grigsby, 
I think ! How d'ye do ? ' [extending two 
fingers] . Grigsby : ' I hope I see you 
well, Sir Pompey. And next time you 
give me two lingers, I'm BLEST if I don't 
pull 'em off'.' 

1889. Sporting Times, July 6. St. 
Mannock. Did you ever hear a still, 
small voice whispering over its morning 
shrimps, ' What a pair of BLESSED fools 
you are ! ' 

BLETHER. BLATHER, subs. (Scotch 
and U.S.A.). Nonsense; vapid 
talk ; voluble chatter. 

b. 1759, d. 1796. BURNS, TamSamson's 
Elegy, st. 12. 
Yon auld gray stane, amang the heather, 

Marks out his head, 
Whare Burns has wrote in rhyming 


Tarn Samson's dead ! 
1886. Pall Mall Gazette, 3 May, 6, 2. 
Havelock's florid adjurations to his men, 
the grim veterans of the 78th, bluntly 
characterized as BLETHER. 

Hence BLETHERING (verb,subs.) 
used in the same sense as 
BLETHER, and as an adjective for 
* volubly ' or ' foolishly talka- 
tive.' Cf., BLETHERSKATE. 

b. 1759, d. 1796. BURNS, Holy Fair, 
st. 8. 

And some are busy BLETHRIN' 
Right loud that day. 
1816. SCOTT, Old Mortality, ch. xiv. 
' I hae been clean spoilt, just wi' listening 
to twa BLETHERING auld wives.' 

1883. HAWLEY SMART, Hard Lines, 
ch. vi. He had brought this BLETHERING 
Irishman down here, and deluyed him 
with punch for the express purpose of 
turning him inside out. 

(provincial and American). i. 
Boastful swagger, whether in 
talk or action. 

2. A boaster; noisy talker 
of blatant nonsense. [From 
BLETHER, to talk nonsensically, 

+ SKATE, allied to Scotch 
SKYTE, a contemptible fellow.] 
It occurs in Maggie Lauder, a 
well-known Scotch song, a fact 
which Murray says led to its 
popularisation in the United 
States. In Ireland it seems to 
have taken the forms of BLAD- 

Circa 1650. F. SEMPILL, Maggie 
Lander, i. Jog on your gait, ye BLETHER- 
SKATE. [M.] 

1825. C. CROKER, Tradit. S. Ireland, 
p. 170. He was, as usual, getting on 
with his BLETHERUMSKITE about the 
fairies. [M.] 

1870. J. R. O'FLANAGAN, Lives of 
the Lord Chancellors of Ireland. ' Lord 
Redesdale was speaking of people who 
learnt to skate with bladders under their 
arms, to buoy them up if they should fall 
into a hole and risk being drowned. 1 'Ah, 
my Lord,' said Toler, ' that is what we 
call BLADDERUMSKATE in Ireland." 

BLEW, verb (common). i. To 
inform ; to ' peach ' ; to expose ; 
to betray. See BLOW UPON, 
of which it is a variant. 

2. (popular.) To spend ; to 
waste ; generally in connection 
with money. When a man has 
spent or lost all his money, he 
is said to have BLEWED IT. 
[The derivation is uncertain, 
that most likely being its refer- 
ence to a corrupt grammatical 
use of BLEW, the past tense of 
' to blow." Money spent reck- 
lessly and wasted vanishes as if 
blown away by the wind.] 

1884. Daily Telegraph, May 28, p. 5, 
col. i. ' Which paid him 1,700 com- 
pensation, when he took to horses, and 
BLEWED the blooming lot in eighteen 

1889. Sporting Times, June 29. 
Isabel and Maudie knew the Turf and all 

its arts 

They had often BLEWED a dollar on a 
wrong 'un 




And Isabel one evening met a mug from 

rural parts, 
An attenuated Juggins, and a long 'un. 

rincer (popular : ' to be cleared 
out ' [at a game] . Rincer, pro- 
perly ' to drench,' ' to serve out, 1 
also has the slang signification 
of ' to thrash ') ; painncr (thieves' 
and vagrants' : this verb is very 
old, and is derived {rompalma 
empoigner. It also signifies to 
arrest, lose, etc.) ; laumir (an 
old cant term) ; se faire ratisser 
(familiar: literally 'to scrape 
oneself ') ; faire rasoir (gaming : 
' to be penniless ') ; se faire enturer 
(popular : ' to cut into oneself ' ; 
enture = incision or cut); panner 
quclqu'un (popular) ; mettre dans 
le sac (gamesters' : Cf., ' be in a 
hole ') ; dccavage (familiar : a 
term employed to signify the 
circumstances of a gamester who 
has ' blewed it ' ; one who is in 
' Queer Street ' from decave, a 
ruined gamester) ; se faire lessiver : 
' to wash oneself.' Michel gives 
lessive = defence, and lessiveur = 
barrister, and remarks that bet- 
ter terms could hardly be given 
to advocate and speech by those 
charged with offence, and who 
wish to return from the same 
' white as snow,' or, as police 
phraseology hath it, without a 
stain upon one's character. For 
other synonyms, see SHAVE. 

BLIMEY, intj. (low). A corruption 
of ' Blind me ! ' ; an expression 
little enough understood by 
those who constantly have it 
in their mouths. 

BLIND, subs, (common). i. The 
night time an allusion to the 
absence of light. See DARK- 

2. (familiar.) A pretence; a 
shift ; an action through which 
one's real purpose is concealed; 
that which obstructs ; a ' make- 

1663. DRYDEN, Wild Gallant, Act iii. 
He . . . took your court to her, only as 
a BLIND to your afiection for me. 

1694. CONGREVE, Double Dealer, Act 
ii., Sc. 5. I know you don't love 
Cynthia, only as a BLIND for your passion 
to me. 

1703. MRS. CENTLIVRE, Beau's Dual, 
I., i. (1872), i., 70. Am I publish'd to the 
world as a BLIND for his designs ? 

1877. E. L. LINTON, World Well Lost, 
ch. xxviii. The excuse was too palpably 
a BLIND to be accepted as a reason. 

1889. Answers, July 13, p. 104, col. 3. 
The Major and the Captain he referred 
to in his letters were mere ' BLINDS.' The 
Captain relied upon the fact that not one 
person In a dozen took the trouble to 
apply to these gentlemen. 

3. (printers'.) A paragraph 
[51] mark is so called ; from the 
eye of the reversed ' P ' being 
filled up. 

Adj. (old). Tipsy; in liquor. 
Nares says this cant term was 
used with others in the works 
of Taylor, the water-poet 
[1630]. For synonyms, see 

phr. (colloquial). A facetious 
simile for very blind mentally 
or physically. 

1849. DICKENS, David Copperfield, 
III., p. 97. The old scholar ... is as 


adv. phr. (common). Never. 
The French have three very 
graphic though in one case 
very vulgar analogues for this 
expression quand les poules pis- 
seront, which need not be trans- 
lated ; le trente six du mois, i.e., 
1 on the thirty-sixth day of the 
month,' and quand les pottles 

Blind Checks. 

Blind Half Hundred. 

auront des dents, i.e., when cocks 
and hens have teeth. 

To GO IT BLIND. A luminous 
figure of speech to convey the 
idea of entering upon an under- 
taking without thought as to the 
result, or inquiry beforehand. 
This is one of the many slang 
expressions which owe their 
origin to the American game of 
poker, the special form of which 
known as blind poker, where the 
cards are betted upon before 
being looked at , being responsible 
for the phrase now in question. 
Cf., also BLIND (subs.). 

1848. J. RUSSELL LOWELL, Biglow 
Papers, II., p. 118 

' to impress on the popular mind 
The comfort and wisdom of COIN' IT 

1871. DE VERB, Americanisms, 
p. 328. Blind Poker has given rise to the 
very common phrase, to GO IT BLIND, 
used whenever an enterprise is under- 
taken without previous inquiry. 

1882. GENERAL SHERMAN, Memoirs, 
vol. I., p. 342. I know that in Washing- 
ton I am incomprehensible, because at 
the outset of the war I would not GO IT 
BLIND, and rush headlong into a war un- 
prepared and with an utter ignorance of 
its extent and purpose. 

1888. Chicago Ledger, May 12. ' And 
so you've married a jewel, have you, 
Tom ? ' 'I have, for a fact, Dick.' 
' Lucky dog ! You're a man in a million. 
Mighty few GO IT BLIND and fare as well 
as you've done.' ' I didn't GO IT BLIND. 
I employed a detective, and he managed 
to get board in the family.' 

BLIND CHEEKS, subs, (common). 
The posteriors. [The deriva- 
tion is from an obvious simile.] 
are Two fat cheeks and ne'er 
a nose ; blind Cupid ; amper- 
sand ; cheeks ; arse ; corybungo ; 
dopey ; droddum ; dummock ; 
feak ; bum; nock (i.e., 'a 
notch ') ; round mouth ; wind- 
mill ; blind-eye ; monocular eye- 

borgne (low : ' a one-eyed per- 
son ') ; un cydope (the allusion 
is mythological from Cyclops, 
the one-eyed giant, whose optic 
was placed in the middle of the 
forehead) ; la rose des vents ; un 
piffe ; un pignard ; boite aux 
Acherponim (from Hebrew achar 
ponim ; literally ' the face at the 
back'). For other synonyms, 
see BUM. 

BLIND DRUNK, adj. phr. (common). 
Very intoxicated ; so drunk as 
to be unable to see better than 
a blind man. Americans say, 
' So drunk as not to be able to 
see through a ladder. 1 For 
synonyms, see SCREWED. 
1845. DISRAELI, Sybil or the Two 

Nations, p. 350. Hang me if I wasn't 

BLIND DRUNK at the end of it. 

phr. (thieves'). To die. For 
synonyms, see ALOFT. 

BLIND EYE, subs, (common). The 
podex. See BLIND CHEEKS. 

BLIND HALF HUNDRED, subs, (mili- 
tary). The Fiftieth Regiment 
of Foot ; from so many men 
suffering from ophthalmia dur- 
ing the Egyptian campaign 
[1801] ; also the DIRTY HALF 
HUNDRED from the men in 
action wiping their faces with 
their black facings during the 
Peninsula War. HALF HUN- 
DRED is an adaptation of the 
number of the regiment the 
Fiftieth. The corps is also 
called the 'Gallant Fiftieth,' 
from its gallantry at the battle 
of Vimiera, 1808. 

1871. Chambers' Journal, No. 417. 
p. 803. The DIRTY HALF HUNDRED was 

Blind Harpers. 


Blind Monkeys. 

the curious nickname given to the 5oth 
Foot. Two accounts are given of the 
origin of this. One asserts that it was 
from their red uniforms being faced with 
black and silver lace, and thus giving the 
regiment a dull and sombre appearance ; 
whilst the other tells us that it was from 
the men wiping their perspiring faces 
with the black cuffs of their coats, and 
thus giving their countenances a some- 
what swarthy tint. Whatever may be 
the origin of this sobriquet, they bear a 
second about which there can be no 
doubt. From the glorious charge, led by 
Colonel Walker, at Vimiera, this regi- 
ment is known as the ' Gallant Fiftieth.' 
1886. Tinsley's Magazine, April, p. 
322. Most people have heard of the 
' Fighting Fiftieth.' But the soth are 
rich in nicknames. They are, or at least 
they were, the BLIND HALF-HUNDREDTH, 
having been but too literally blinded 
by the ravages of ophthalmia when in 
Egypt with Sir Ralph Abercromby. And 
when on one occasion the men dried the 
perspiration from their faces with their 
cuffs, they for a while became the DIRTY 

BLIND HARPERS, subs. (old). Beg- 
gars counterfeiting blindness, 
playing on fiddles, etc. Grose. 

BLIND-MAN'S HOLIDAY, subs, (fami- 
liar). Formerly this common 
colloquialism signified the night 
or darkness ; it is now, how- 
ever, usually applied to the 
time ' between lights ' when it 
is too dark to see, but often not 
dark enough to light up, and a 
holiday or rest from work is 
taken. The blind from their 
infirmity are in general ex- 
empted from labour, and in this 
view keep holiday ; when the 
twilight hour comes, when those 
that can work, or read, etc., can 
no longer see to do so, it is 
and they of necessity rest 
accordingly. This derivation, 
one would think, is sufficiently 
obvious ; but, on the other 
hand, there are those who 
think the expression a corrup- 

tion of 'blind-man's all-day.' 
The meaning then would be 
that the gradual departure of 
light brings one to the state 
which the blind man endures 
all day, or which is all the day 
the blind man has. Which- 
ever derivation be true, it is, 
however, interesting to note 
that this ' household word ' of 
to-day has been in the mouths 
of the English people for more 
than three hundred years. It 
is the English equivalent of the 

Scotch IN THE GLOAMING, of an 

equally venerable lineage. 

1599. NASHE, Lenten Stuffe, in wks. 
V., 263. And what will not blinde Cupid 
doe in the night which is his BLINDMAN'S 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. iii.). Indeed, madam, it is BLIND- 
MAN'S HOLIDAY ; we shall soon be all of 
a colour. 

1824. T. FIELDING, Proverbs, etc. 
(Familiar Phrases), p. 147. BLINDMAN'S 


1866. Aunt Judy's Mag., Oct., 358. 
At meal times, or in BLINDMAN'S HOLI- 
DAY, when no work was to be done. [M.] 

BLIND MONKEYS, subs, (common). 
Hotten thus explains this ex- 
pression : An imaginary collec- 
tion at the Zoological Gardens, 
which are supposed to receive 
care and attention from persons 
fitted by nature for such office 
and for little else. An idle and 
useless person is often told that 
he is only fit to lead the BLIND 
MONKEYS to evacuate. Another 
form this elegant conversation 
takes, is for one man to tell 
another that he knows of a suit- 
able situation for him. ' How 
much a week ? and what to do ? ' 
are natural questions, and then 
comes the scathing and sarcas- 
tic reply, ' Five bob a week at 
the doctor's you're to stand 
behind the door and make the 

Blind o. 



patients sick. They won't want 
no physic when they sees your 

BUN DO, verb (military). To die. 
For synonyms, see ALOFT. 

BLIND ONE'S TRAIL, verbal phr. 
(American) . Figuratively, to 
remove the traces of one's 
actions; to conceal one's in- 
tentions. This expression is 
obviously traceable to the days 
of Indian warfare, when e.ven 
the lives of those engaged often 
depended upon the success with 
which the trail could be 
1 blinded, 1 or obliterated. Also 

BLIND SIDE, subs, (familiar). The 
BLIND SIDE of a person or 
thing is that which is weakest ; 
the most assailable side. The 
expression is much older than 
the example quoted by Murray 

1606. CHAPMAN, Gentleman Usher, 
Act i., p. 79 (Plays, 1874). 
For that, we'll follow the BLIND SIDE of 

And make it sometimes subject of our 


1663. DRYDEN, Wild Gallant, Act 
iii. Con. My father's credulous, and 
this rogue has found the BLIND SIDE of 

1742. FIELDING, Joseph Andrews, 
bk. III., ch. v. Indeed, if this good man 
had an enthusiasm, or what the vulgar 
call a BLIND SIDE, it was this, he thought 
a schoolmaster the greatest character in 
the world, and himself the greatest of all 

1820. LAMB, Elia (Mrs. Battle). All 
people have their BLIND SIDE their 

BLINK, verb (American). --To 
drink. [Probably of humorous 
origin, similar to SMILE (q.v.). 
and alluding to a wink or BLINK 
exchanged between friends and 

comrades before drinking. A 
frequent toast is ' I look towards 
you,' and the transference of 
sense in such a phrase as ' I 
wink ' or ' BLINK to you,' and 
then the use of TO BLINK for 
' to drink ' is easy enough. Cf., 


BLINKER, subs, (popular). i. The 
eye. [From BLINK, to move 
the eyelids, to wink; Cf., 
etc.] For synonyms, see GLIMS. 

1816. Quiz, Grand Master, I., ii. 
A patent pair of goggle winkers, Con- 
ceal'd from public view his BLINKERS. 


1888. American Humorist. 'BLANK 
YOUR BLINKERS,' angrily retorted Brudee, 
1 your business was not to fight, but show 
us the enemy.' 

2. (common.) pi. Spectacles. 
For synonyms, see BARNACLES. 

1732. M. GREEN, Grotto, 10. Bigots 
who but one way see through BLINKERS 
of authority. [M.] 

1803. BRISTED, Pedest. Tour, I., 38. 
A little fellow, with BLINKERS over his 
eyes. [M.] 

1851. THACKERAY, Eng. Hum., IV. 
(1858), 205. Who only dare to look up at 
life through BLINKERS. [M.] 

3. (provincial.) In Norfolk, 
a black eye. 

4. (pugilistic.) A hard blow 
in the eye. 

euphemistic oath, equivalent to 

the more common ' D n your 

eyes.' See OATHS. 

BLINK-FENCER, subs, (thieves'). 
A person who sells spectacles. 
[From BLINK, a contracted form 
of 'blinkers,' spectacles + FENCE, 
primarily a receiver of stolen 
goods, but also applied to a 
tradesman of any kind, + ER.j 




BLINKO, subs, (thieves' and va- 
grants'). An amateur enter- 
tainment held, generally, at a 
public house ; a FREE AND EASY 
(q.v.} ; a SING SONG (q.v .}. 

1877. J. GREENWOOD, Dick Temple. 
1 What is a BLINKO for instance ? ' 
' Well, it's a kind of entertainment, sing- 
ing, and that,' replied the old fellow, ' to 
which strangers are not invited least of 
all the police.' 

1883. Daily Telegraph, August 4, p. 2, 
col. i. 'An Harmonic BLINKO, the pro- 
ceeds of which will be given towards 
buying a barrow for Young Duckling, 
who has got married with no visible 
means of support.' 

BLISTER, verb (common). Em- 
ployed euphemistically for ' to 
damn.' Cf., BLAMED. 

1840. H. COCKTON, Valentine Vox, 
ch. xxvi. ' Where can they be hid ? ' 
he exclaimed, with great emphasis. 
' BLISTER 'em ! Where can the scoun- 
drels be got to ? ' 

BLIZZARD, subs, (popular). A 
poser ; a stunning blow ; an un- 
answerable argument, etc., etc. 
This word, recently brought 
into prominent notice as the 
name by which sudden and ex- 
ceptionally severe snowstorms 
are known in the Western States 
of America, is one the etymo- 
logy of which is dubious. Some 
authorities derive it from the 
German blitz lightning, but a 
correspondent of N\ andQ. claims 
it as of English nationality, 
asserting that the word has been 
known in the Midland Counties 
in its present form, or nearly so, 
for over thirty years ; further 
stating that ' may I be bliz- 
zered ' is a common oath there. 
Assuming that the expression is 
a variation of the more gene- 
rally familiar ' May God strike 
me blind ' (that is, presumably 
by lightning), there is nothing 

antagonistic between the two 
theories of its genesis, and a 
further light is perhaps thrown 
upon the subject, tending to 
support its German origin, by 
the fact that, in Pennsylvania, 
it has been familiar, according 
to a correspondent of the New 
York Sun, for more than half-a- 
century, its use and meaning 
being akin to the instances 
above mentioned. It appears 
that in the central counties of 
the State in question, the word 
was always used to include the 
idea of the ' poser,' and even of 
force, violence, spitefulness, or 
vindictiveness. If one dealt 
another a hostile blow he ' gave 
him a BLIZZARD on the nose,' ' on 
the jaw,' 'between the eyes,' 
etc. If a magistrate lectured a 
litigant severely he ' gave him 
a BLIZZARD.' If in debate one 
dealt mercilessly in ridicule he 
' gave his opponent a BLIZZARD.' 
If one man swore at or cursed 
another he ' gave him a BLIZ- 
ZARD.' If a man's wife scolded 
him she 'gave him a BLIZZARD.' 
When it is remembered that 
Pennsylvania is the State in 
which the Dutch or German 
element most largely predomi- 
nates, it does not seem far 
fetched to attribute its origin 
to a Teutonic source, more 
especially as there is nothing 
in the English usage to preclude 
such a derivation. However 
this may be, the word invariably 
seems to imply suddenness com- 
bined with violence ; and, at 
any rate, it apparently disposes 
of the supposition that the word 
is of Western origin, or a coin- 
age of so recent a date as is 
frequently supposed. Like most 
words of its class, which have 
largely struck the popular taste, 




it has been generally adopted in 
an idiomatic sense to signify a 
stunning blow ; an overwhelm- 
ing argument , or a cool reception . 

1834. CROCKETT, Tour Down East, 
16. A gentleman at dinner asked me 
for a toast ; and supposing he meant to 
have some fun at my expense, I con- 
cluded to go ahead, and give him and his 
likes a BLIZZARD. 

1871. DE VERE, Americanisms, p. 
443. BLIZZARD, a term referred back to 
the German Blitz, means in the West a 
stunning blow or an overwhelming 

1884. G. A. S[ALA], in ///. L. News, 
Feb. 23, p. 171, col. 2. BLIZZARD. The 
philologers in American Slang refer 
back to the German blitz ; and its 
original meaning in the Western States 
seems to have been a stunning blow or 
an overwhelming argument. In the 
Eastern States a sudden set-in of severe 
frost is called a ' cold snap.' Query, how 
many ' cold snaps ' does it take to make 

1888. San Francisco News Letter. I 
should like to have seen the Colonel's 
face when he got that very cold, BLIZ- 
ZARDY letter. I bet that if Minnie had 
been near him he would have slapped 
her real hard. 


BLOAT, subs. (American thieves'). 
i. A drowned body. 

2. A drunkard. The simile 
which groups the two is, per- 
haps, not far wrong. [Probably 
from BLOAT, an adjective 
signifying puffed, swollen, in- 
flated. BLOAT was also for- 
merly in use in England as a 
contemptuous name for a human 

liar). An opprobrious epithet 
for a man swollen with the 
pride of rank or wealth ; also 
a general sobriquet applied by 
'the masses' to 'the classes.' 
' Bloated ' has long been em- 
ployed in a similar sense. Swift 

spoke of a certain statesman as 
1 a bloated minister' [1731]. 

1861. THACKERAY, Adventures of 
Philip, I., p. TOT. What a BLOATED 
ARISTOCRAT Thingamy has become since 
he got his place! 

1863. G. A. SALA, Breakfast in Bed, 
essay I., p. 17 (1864). Of the two most 
salient English gentlemen represented, 
one is a BLOATED ARISTOCRAT of a Baronet 
hopelessly in debt, the other a rapid 
brainless nobleman. 

1869. M.TWAIN, Innocents Abroad, 
ch. x. We sat down finally, at a late 
hour, in the great Casino, and called for 
unstinted champagne. It is so easy to 
be BLOATED ARISTOCRATS where it costs 
nothing of consequence ! 


BLOB, verb (vagrants'). To talk ; 
to ' patter.' [Probably a cor- 
rupted form of BLAB.] Beg- 
gars are of two kinds those 
who SCREEVE (introducing them- 
selves with a FAKEMENT, or 
false document) and those who 
BLOB, or state their case in 
their own truly ' unvarnished ' 
language. [See, however, second 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lou. Poor, vol. I., p. 339. ' Of pro- 
fessional beggars there are two kinds 
those who " do it on the BLOB " (by word 
of mouth), and those who do it by 
" screeving," that is, by petitions and 

1861. WHYTE MELVILLE, Good for 
Nothing, ch. xxvi. ' Five minutes more 
and we shall run into him,' he shouts, 
sitting well back on his horse, and urging 
him to his extreme pace, ' when he BLOBS 
like that he's getting beat. See how 
Canvas sticks to him, and the yellow dog 
hangs back waiting for the turn.' 

BLOCK, subs. (old). A stupid per- 
son ; a hard unsympathetic 
individual ; one of mean, un- 
attractive appearance. [A figu- 
rative sense of BLOCK, as of wood 
or stone.] 



Block House. 

a. 1534. N. UDALL, Roister Doister, 
III., iii., p. 44 (Arber). Ye are such a 
calfe, such an asse, such a BLOCKE. 

1595 SHAKSPEARE, Two Gentle- 
men, Act ii., Sc. 5. Speed. What an ass 
art thou ! I understand thee not. Launcc. 
What a BLOCK art thou, that thou canst 
not ! 

1599. JONSON, Every Man out of his 
Humour. Induct. Cor. Hang him, dull 


1624. MASSINGER, Bondman, II., ii. 
This will bring him on, Or he's a BLOCK. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BLOCK (s) . . . sometimes an ignorant, 
stupid fellow. 

1881. BESANT AND RICE, Chaplain of 
the Fleet, pt. II., ch. iv. She said that 
her partner was delightful to dance with, 
partly because he was a lord and a 
title, she said, gives an air of grace to 
any BLOCK partly because he danced 
well and talked amiably. 

2. The head. Possibly an 
abbreviated form of BARBER'S 
BLOCK (q.v.). For synonyms, see 

1637. SHIRLEY, Lady of Pleas, II., i. 
Buy a beaver For thy own BLOCK. 

1861. H. KINGSLEY, Ravenshoc, ch. 
xxxv. ' I cleaned a groom's boots on 
Toosday, and he punched my BLOCK 
because I blacked the tops.' 

BARBER'S BLOCK, subs, (com- 
mon). i. A transferred sense 
[from a wooden head for 
showing off a wig] applied to a 
showy, over-dressed man ; a fop. 

1876. E. LYNN LINTON, Hallbcrgcr's 
Illns. Mag., p. 72. No, not to men worthy 
of the name of men men, not BARBER'S 

2. The head. See BLOCK, 
sense 2. 

1823. SCOTT, Peveril of the Peak, 
ch. v. (I., p. 67). Were I not to take better 
care of the wood than you, brother, there 
would soon be no more wood about the 
town than the BARBER'S BLOCK that's on 
your own shoulders. 


BLOCK, phr. (common). A man 
or thing exhibiting the same 
qualities as he or that with 
which a comparison is made. 

1627. SANDERSON, Serm., I., 283. Am 
not I a child of the same Adam, a vessel 
of the same clay, A CHIP OF THE SAME 
BLOCK, with him. [M.] 

1655. L'ESTRANGE, Charles I., 126. 
Episcopacy, which they thought but a 
great CHIP OF THE OLD BLOCK Popery. 



RAZOR, phr. (old). Inconse- 
quent argument ; futile en- 
deavour ; incongruous applica- 
tion of means or ability to the 
end in view. 

1774. GOLDSMITH, Retaliation, 42. 
'Twas his fate unemployed or in place, 
sir, to eat mutton cold and CUT BLOCKS 


To BLOCK A HAT, phr. (popu- 

lar). To crush a man's hat 
over the eyes by a blow ; TO 
BONNET (q.v.}. 


BLOCK HOUSE, subs. (old). A 
prison ; the house of detention. 
For synonyms, see CAGE. 

1624. CAPT. SMITH, Virginia, III., 
xi., 85. To stop the disorders of our 
disorderly Theeues . . . built a BLOCK- 
HOUSE. [M.] 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BLOCK-HOUSES, Prisons, 
houses of correction, etc. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicinn. [Same 
definition given as in Grose.] 

1889. MURRAY, New English Dic- 
tionary. [Common since c. 1500: of 
uncertain history. The Ger. equivalent 
blockhaus (' einen steinen Blockhaus') is 
quoted by Grimm, 1557 and 1602 ; the Du. 
blokhtiis is in Kilian, 1599 ; Fr. blocus, 
generally considered to be the same 
word, and orig. in same sense, is 
quoted by Littre in the i6th c. (C/., 
Bloccuz). So far as evidence goes, the 
Eng. is thus the earliest; but we should 
expect it to be of Du. or Ger. origin. In 
any case the sense was not originally (as 
in modern notion) a house composed of 
blocks of wood, but one which blocks or 
obstructs a passage. The history and age 
of the Ger. blockhaus and Fr. blocus 
require more investigation.] 

Block Island Turkey. 2 37 



(American). Salted cod-fish. 
Connecticut and Rhode Island. 
Slang delights in naming fish 
as flesh. For some curious ex- 
amples, see TWO-EYED STEAK. 


subs, (common). i. Small 
pieces of meat of indifferent 
quality, trimmings from the 
joints, etc. Exposed for sale 
on the blocks or counters of 
butcher's shops in cheap neigh- 

1848. Frase/s Mag., XXXVII., 396. 
Forced to substitute a BLOCKER of meat, 
with its cheap accompaniment of bread 
and vegetables . . . for poultry and rump 
steaks. [M.] 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 54. For dinner 
. . . they buy BLOCK ORNAMENTS, as they 
call the small, dark-coloured pieces of 
meat exposed on the cheap butchers' 
blocks or counters. Ibid, p. 516. What 
they consider a good living is a dinner 
daily off good BLOCK ORNAMENTS (small 
pieces of meat, discoloured and dirty, 
but not tainted, usually set for sale on 
the butcher's block). 

1884. Punch, No. 2063, p. 29. And 
eager-faced women must bargain for 
tainted BLOCK ORNAMENTS still. 

1887. Standard, Jan. 20, The Poor at 
Market. Watching a man who stands 
with his wife and little girl before a 
butcher's shop, let us see what they 
have to choose from in buying for the 
next day's dinner. On the shelves set 
out in front of the shop meat scraps are 
offered at 3^d. the Ib. ; better scraps (or 
BLOCK ORNAMENTS, as they are termed) 
at 4d. ; somewhat shapeless small joints 
of beef from inferior parts at sd., one 
coarse shoulder of mutton at the same ; 
tolerably good-looking meat at 6d. ; 
mutton chops at j&. and 8d. ; and rump 
steak at rod. 

2. Applied to individuals, a 
BLOCK ORNAMENT signifies a 
queer looking man or woman 
one odd in appearance. 

BLOKE or BLOAK, subs, (common). 
A man ; a fellow. In saying 

' not strictly " a man " as Hot- 
ten defines it, but a man in a 
contemptuous sense,' Barrere is 
himself wide of the mark. The 
word may sometimes be used 
contemptuously ; but, generally 
speaking, any idea of reproach 
or praise is absent, and a BLOKE 
means a man pure and simple. 
In witness whereof are the fol- 
lowing examples of its use. 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 397. If we met an 
old BLOKE (man) we propped him. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 
3 ed., p. 446. A gentleman. A BLOAK. 

1860. SALA, The Baddington Peer- 
age, II., p. 49. My old BLOKE ! 

1862. KINGSLEY, in Macmillan's 
Mag., Dec., 96. Little better than BLOKES 
and boodles after all. [M.] 

1863. OUIDA, Held in Bondage, bk. 
I., p. 245. The girl is stunning, the 
BLOKES say, so we must forgive you. 

1865. Miss BRADDON, in Temple Bar, 
XIII., 483. The society of the aged 
BLOKE is apt to pull upon the youthful 

1869. J. GREENWOOD, Seven Curses 
of London. It came out in the course of 
the evidence that the meaning of the 
word BLOKE was ' a man whom a woman 
might pick up in the street.' 

1873. ROBINSON, Little Kate Kirby, 
I., p. 136. ' Give us a border then, old 
BLOKE,' shrieked another gamin. 

c. 1875. Broadside Ballad, ' Keep it 
I have heard though may be it isn't a 


Keep it dark ! 
That the present Lord Chancellor's 

going to be sacked, 

Keep it dark ! 

And Dr. Kenealy, that popular BLOKE, 
That extremely warm member, the mem- 
ber for Stoke, 
Is about to succeed him, the lawyers to 


But, keep it dark ! 

c. 1869. Broadside Ballad, ' Shooting 
the Moon.' Spoken Yes, and I used to 
do very well, until some ragged young 
urchin said to his pal, don't you varder, 
don't you know that ere BLOKE, that's 
the BLOKE we saw the other day with a 




1883. Daily News, May 15, p. 7, col. 
2. ' When you are conning out into the 
yard ask the next BLOKE to change num- 
bers with you.' 

In each case the ' face value ' 
of the word appears to be simply 
'a man,' and in spite of 
Barrere's assertion that ' in the 
police newspapers twenty-five 
years ago a BLOKE was a victim 
of sharps, a stupid person, a 
greenhorn,' the evidence is all 
the other way ; in one instance, 
indeed, the individual in ques- 
tion is reported to be 'a 
gentleman.' As regards de- 
rivation, its origin is uncertain. 
Hotten and Ogilvie compare it 
with the Hindustanee loke, a 
man ; while Leland traces it to 
' the Dutch blok, a log, a fool. 1 
For synonyms, see COVE. 

BLOOD, subs. (old). i. A fop; 
dandy ; buck ; or ' fast ' man. 
Originally in common use, but 
now obsolete. [From that legi- 
timate sense of the word which 
attributes the seat of the pas- 
sions and emotions to the 
blood. Hence, a man of spirit ; 
one who is worth mention, 
and, in an inferior sense, he 
who makes himself notorious, 
whether by dress or rowdyism.] 
In the last century, especially 
during the regency of Georgel V., 
the term was largely in vogue 
to denote a young man of good 
birth or social standing about 
town ; subsequently, it came to 
mean a riotous, disorderly 

1562. BULLEYN, Sicke Men, etc., 
730. A lustie BLOOD, or a pleasaunte 
brave young roister. [M.] 

1606. JOHN DAY, lie of G^^lls, Act i., 
p. 9. Basil. Welcome gallants, wel- 
come honord BLOODS. Ibid. To which 
effect we have sent a generall challenge 
to all the youthfull BLOODS of Africa. 

1752. Adventurer, No. 15. Our heroes 
of liberty, whether Bucks or BLOODS, 
or of whatever other denomination, 
when by some creditor of slavish prin- 
ciples they have been locked up in a 
prison, never yet petitioned to be 

Sheppard [1889], p. 21. ' Trenchard ! ' 
he muttered ' Aliva Trenchard. They 
were right, then, as to the name. Well, 
if she survives the accident as the 
BLOOD who styles himself Sir Cecil 
fancies she may do this ring will make 
my fortune by leading to the discovery 
of the chief parties concerned in this 
strange affair.' 

1846. THACKERAY, V. Fair, ch. x. 
A perfect and celebrated BLOOD, or 
dandy about town, was this young officer. 

1853. THACKERAY, Barry Lyndon, 
ch. ii., p. 36. The modern BLOODS have 
given up the respectful ceremonies which 
distinguished a gentleman in my time. 

2. (old.) Money. [A com- 
parison of blood, as the vital 
principle, to money, as that 
upon which the sustenance of 
life depends the ' sinews of 
war,' the ' needful,' etc.] For 
all synonyms, see ACTUAL. 

1748. DODSLEY, Collection of Poems, 
III., 199. 

He sticks to gaming, as the surer trade; 
Turns downright sharper, lives by 

sucking BLOOD. 

1872. M. E. BRADDON, Dead Sea 
Fruit, ch. iv. ' A man who ought to con- 
sider himself uncommonly fortunate 
never to have known what it was to be 
hard up, or to have a pack of extravagant 
sons sucking his BLOOD, like so many 
modern vampires.' 

Verb (familiar). To deplete 
of money ; to victimise ; a figura- 
tive usage of 'to bleed'; i.e., 
surgically, to let or draw blood 
by opening a vein. Cf., subs., 
sense 2, and BLEED. 

1884. HAWLEY SMART, From Post 
to Finish, p. 187. ' He is very likely to 
want a thousand pounds at any moment. 
There's a leaven of the old squire in his 
composition, and I recollect hearing that 
he was BLOODED over the Phaeton 
Leger.' ' You surely can't mean that he 

Blood and Entrails. 2 39 


has taken to racing ? Why, you must be 
aware that he has no money for anything 
of that sort.' 

BLOOD AND ENTRAILS, subs. (Ameri- 
can). The British ensign is so 
nicknamed by Yankee sailors ; 
English salts return the com- 
pliment by jokingly speaking of 
the American flag as THE 


BLOOD AND THUNDER, subs, (com- 
mon). A beverage of port wine 
and brandy mixed. Port is the 
BLOOD, from its colour ; brandy 
the THUNDER the combined 
effects being, it is held, pro- 
vocative of ' thundering ' head- 

phr. (originally American, now 
common) . Low class fiction, the 
term being generally applied to 
works dealing with the exploits 
of desperadoes, cut-throats, and 
other criminals. Also called 
LING SHOCKERS, etc., all of which 
see for further illustrations. 

1876. Portland Transcript, May. 
Here let me say one word to the Trans- 
cript mothers. Look carefully to your 
child's reading matter. Beware of the 
cheap, trashy romances, the BLOOD AND 
THUNDER TALES by Tom, Dick and 
Harry, which fill the counters of so 
many of our bookstores. 

1883. Daily News, March 26, p. 2, 


tragedies generally associated with the 
transpontine drama. 

, plw . (old). An 
abbreviated form of an old and 
blasphemous oath 'God's blood 
and wounds ! ' 

Sheppard [1889], p. 58. 'Och! if he's a 
friend o' yours, my dear joy, there's no 
more to be said ; and right sorry am I 

I struck him. But, BLOOD-AN'-'OUNS ! 
man, if ould Nick himself were to hit 
me a blow, I'd be afther givin' him 


subs, (common). A narration or 
incident which ' makes the flesh 
creep ' ; that which stirs one's 
feelings strongly, and generally 
repulsively. Said of a sensa- 
tional murder, a thrilling ghost- 
story, etc. Cf., BLOOD AND 


BLOOD FOR BLOOD, phr. (trade). 
When tradesmen exchange 
wares, setting the cost of one 
kind off against another instead 
of making payment in currency, 
they are said to give BLOOD FOR 
BLOOD. Cf., BLOOD, (r) the 
vital fluid ; (2) money hence 
applied to that upon the sale 
of which a man is dependent 
for a livelihood. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. A hat- 
ter furnishing a hosier with a hat, and 
taking payment in stockings, is said to 


BLOOD-RED FANCY, subs, (pugilis- 
tic). A particular kind of hand- 
kerchief sometimes worn by 
pugilists and frequenters of prize 
fights. See BILLY. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 
3 ed., p. 446. Red silk handkerchief. 

BLOOD SUCKERS, subs, (military). 
The Sixty-third Regiment of 

BLOOD-TUB, subs. (American). A 
rowdy ; a blustering bully ; a 
rough. This nickname was pe- 
culiar to Baltimore, which city, 




perhaps of all cities in the 
Union, enjoyed, for a time, an 
unenviable reputation on ac- 
count of the rowdyism of a 
section of its inhabitants. More 
or less, however, these turbulent 
gangs infest all the more im- 
portant centres of population, 
and answer in many respects to 
the JLnglish 'roughs.' They are 
recruited largely from the 
labouring and commercial popu- 
lation ; they drink, and swear, 
but commit no crime, save an 
occasional deed of violence in 
times when excitement runs un- 
usually high, and are for the 
most part affiliated with one 
or other of the two political 
parties, the Republicans or 
Democrats. They are known as 
Dead Rabbits in New York, 
Moyamensing Hounds in Phila- 
delphia, BLOOD-TUBS in Balti- 
more, where at other times they 
have also been designated Babes, 
Plug-uglies, and Ashlanders. 
The BLOOD-TUBS are reported 
to have been mostly butchers, 
and to have got their epithet 
from having, on an election day, 
dipped an obnoxious German's 
head in a tub of warm blood, 
and then driven him running 
through the town, 

18 (?). Song of the Irish Legion. 

BLOOD-TUBS and plug-uglies, and others 

Are sick for a thrashing in sweet Balti- 
more ; 

Be jabers ! that same I'd be proud to 

Of the terrible force of an Irishman's arm. 

BLOODY, adj. (low). An epithet 
difficult to define, and used in 
a multitude of vague and vary- 
ing senses. Most frequently, 
however, as it falls with weari- 
some reiteration every two or 
three seconds from the mouths 

of London roughs of the lowest 
type, no special meaning, much 
less a sanguinary one, can be 
attached to its use. In such a 
case it forms a convenient in- 
tensitive, sufficiently important 
as regards sound to satisfy those 
whose lack of language causes 
them to fall back upon a fre- 
quent use of words of this type. 
BLOODY occasionally carries 
with it a suspicion of anger, 
resentment, or detestation. [For 
suggested derivations, and some 
incidental illustrative examples, 
see adverbial usage, which 

1840. R. DANA, Bef. Mast, ii., 2. 
You'll find me a BLOODY rascal. Ibid, 
xx., 61. They've got a man for a mate 
of that ship, and not a BLOODY sheep 
about decks. [M.] 

1880. RUSKIN, Fiction, Fair and F., 
29. The use of the word BLOODY in 
modern low English is a deeper cor- 
ruption, not altering the form of the 
word, but defiling the thought in it. [M.] 

Adv. (low). Among the vul- 
gar at the present day BLOODY, 
used adverbially, says G. A. 
Sala [Notes and Queries, 4 S., i., 
Feb. 8, 1868] , simply qualifies 
the superlative and excessive. 
Admiral Gambier, who is said 
to have introduced ' tea and 
piety' into the navy, very pro- 
perly discountenanced the prac- 
tice so long common to naval 

officers of d g the sailors' 

eyes while they were reefing 
topsails. His tars, scarcely 
grateful, nicknamed the admiral 
'Old Bloody Politeful.' The 
lower classes use BLOODY in- 
differently as a term of depre- 
ciation or appreciation. Thus, 
it's a BLOODY shame ; and per 
contra in a flash song, the poet 
(supposed to be languishing in 
prison) recounts that the chap- 
lain discoursed to the inmates 




' How Jonah lived inside of a whale, 
'Twas a BLOODY sight better than county 

As regards derivation, dual 
causes seem to have operated in 
the evolution of BLOODY in its 
depraved sense. The various 
stages are summarised by Mur- 
ray, in so far as evidence will 
permit, as follows. The origin 
is not quite certain ; but there 
is good reason to think that it 
was at first a reference to the 
habits of the ' bloods ' or aristo- 
cratic rowdies of the end of the 
iyth and beginning of the i8th 
c. The phrase ' BLOODY drunk ' 
was apparently = ' as drunk as a 
blood ' (Cf. , ' as drunk as a 
lord ') ; thence it was extended 
to kindred expressions, and at 
length to others ; probably in 
later times, its associations with 
bloodshed and murder (Cf., a 
BLOODY battle, a BLOODY but- 
cher) have recommended it to 
the rough classes as a word that 
appeals to their imagination. 
We may compare the prevalent 
craving for impressive or graphic 
intensives, seen in the use of 
jolly, awfully, terribly, devilish, 
deuced, damned, ripping, rattling, 
thumping, stunning, thundering, 
etc. There is no ground for the 
notion that BLOODY, offensive as 
from association it now is to 
ears polite, contains any pro- 
fane allusion, or has connec- 
tion with the oath ' 'sblood ! ' 
In this particular it may be 
noted that Mr. C. G. Leland is 
in error when he says ' Mr. 
Hotten thinks this is an ex- 
pletive without reference to any 
[italics not in original] mean- 
ing.' Mr. Hotten neither said 
nor implied anything of the 
kind, but just the reverse ; and 
Mr. Leland has hung his re- 

marks upon a misquotation. 
Hotten's exact words are 
' BLOODY, an expletive used, 
without reference to meaning, 
as an adjective and an adverb, 
simply for intensification ' a 
very different thing ; ergo as far 
as Hotten goes he is absolutely 

There seems little doubt, 
however, that the association 
of BLOODY with bloodshed and 
murder has had a very large 
influence in determining its 
present bad signification in the 
mouth of a cockney of the 
lower classes. It is noteworthy, 
too, that the German blutig is 
sometimes used, says H. Tiede- 
man [A7. and Q., 4 S., i., Feb. 8, 
1868], in the same manner as 
the London BLOODY : While 
living in Dresden, I heard many 
times uttered such phrases as 
' Ich habe keinen blutigen Heller mehr, 1 
[ I have no BLOODY penny or 'red 
cent ' more] , 

for ' I have not a single penny 
left,' etc. Was, then, the 
Dresden blutig introduced to 
the London mob in the shape 
of BLOODY ? The Dutch bloedig 
may be used figuratively, just 
as the French sanglant. Une 
injure sanglante might be trans- 
lated by 'een bloedige beleediging .' 
It might, and it is in fact, some- 
times used to qualify an adjec- 
tive. To say ' bloedig schoon ' 
(literally, ' bloody beautiful '), 
would be perfectly correct, but 
then it has not the sense of 
exceedingly ; it keeps its original 
meaning. ' Bloedig schoon ' could 
not be rendered otherwise than 
by sanguinary and beautiful. 

1676. SIR G. ETHEREDGE, Man of 
Mode (Act i., Sc. i), p. 186, ed. 1723. 

Dor. Give him half-a-crown. 

Med. Not without he will promise to 
be BLOODY drunk. 


Bloody Back. 


Bloody Shirt. 

1684. DRYDEN, Prol. Southci-nc's 
Disappointment, line 59. The doughty 
bullies enter BLOODY drunk. [M.] 

1706. FARQUHAR, Recruiting Officer, 
Act iv., Sc. i. Plume. Thou art a BLOODY 
impudent fellow. [There is no question 
of fighting in the context.] 

1711. SWIFT, Journal to Stella, 8 
May, letter 22. It was BLOODY hot walk- 
ing to-day. 

1836. M. SCOTT, Tom Cringle's Log, 
ch. ii. ' I've a BLOODY great mind to go 
down with him,' stuttered another. 

From the foregoing examples 
the word would appear to have 
been once in literary use ; it is 
not now customary to print it 

in full, but thus, b y. In 

passing it may be mentioned 
that there is no ground for at- 
tributing its derivation to ' By'r 
Our Lady.' 

BLOODY BACK, subs. (old). A 
soldier ; a nickname alluding to 
the colour of his coat. [From 
BLOODY = of the colour of blood, 
i.e., scarlet or blood-red + BACK.] 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. BLOODY 
BACK. A jeering appellation for a soldier. 

BLOODY CHASM, phr. (Ameri- 
can) . A favourite expression 
with orators who, during the 
years immediately succeeding 
the Civil War, sought to oblite- 
rate the memory of the struggle. 
The antithetical phrase is TO 


BLOODY ELEVENTH, subs, (military). 
The Eleventh Regiment of 
Foot. At the battle of Sala- 
manca, fought with the French, 
the corps was nearly cut to 
pieces, whence its sanguinary 
sobriquet. At Fontenoy and 
Ostend also, it was hard-pressed 
and nearly annihilated. 

BLOODY JEMMY, subs, (common). 

An uncooked sheep's head. 

which is only one of many of 
a similar character, variants 
such as ' to wave the crimson 
banner,' ' the ensanguined under 
garment,' etc., being quite 
frequently met with in Ameri- 
can journalism. Its origin and 
history is thus explained in 
Americanisms, Old and New. It 
is a political phrase used in the 
States to signify the opening 
anew or keeping alive of fac- 
tious strife on party questions. 
Primarily it was the symbol of 
those who, during the Recon- 
struction period at the close of 
the rebellion of the Southern or 
Confederate States, would not 
suffer the Civil War to sink into 
oblivion out of consideration for 
the feelings of the vanquished. 
Perhaps a more odious term 
never crept into politics than 
the BLOODY SHIRT ; it is alike 
distasteful to the sense, brutal 
and vulgar, and capable of mis- 
use. There are still those who, 
in American politics, in the 
thousand and one points of 
difference which continually 
and inevitably must arise be- 
tween institutions so diverse in 
origin, tradition, and practice 
as those of the North and 
South, seek for party purposes 
to estrange the one from the 
other by keeping alive the ex- 
citing memories of the old bitter 
struggle. When a man is said 
to have waved the BLOODY 
SHIRT it is known that he has 
gone back in spirit and intent 
to the sorrowful days of the 
Republic, when the blue and 

Bloody Shirt. 

2 43 Bloody Shirt. 

the grey, each confident of 
battling for the right, were 
slaying each other in the 
valleys of the South. He 
ignores the peace which has 
settled over the old fields of 
war, and does not assent to the 
hand clasp of Federal with 
Confederate. He tries to open 
the strife anew, mocks the 
spirit of forgiveness, and rakes 
the old ashes over in the hunt 
for a burning coal. He scoffs at 
those who fought against the 
Union, and, because they have 
come back to it, calls them 
insincere. He rebukes the 
veteran who forgave them when 
together they laid down their 
arms. This is called WAVING 


day, when many of those 
now in active life cannot 
remember the time when 
the Rebellion had closed, 
and the boys were marching 
home, there are legislators and 
journalists who devote their 
efforts to stirring up a sectional 
hatred which without these 
efforts would be but a tradition. 
Many Southerners keenly resent 
the spirit which thus traduces 
the now loyal South, and de- 
clares it hypocritical. The 
BLOODY SHIRTERS, as they are 
called, rail at the decency which 
forgives and forgets, and with 
venomous tongues revile alike 
those who fell in the lost cause, 
those who lived to repent, and 
those who would grant pardon. 
So long as men lost to 
honour will do this the ac- 
tion must have a name it 
will be called WAVING THE 
BLOODY SHIRT. From this 
special meaning it is now pass- 
ing into general use to indi- 
cate similar tactics in regard to 

any cause. It has recently 
been introduced into English 
journalism in connection with 
the Irish struggle, and the 
1 Unionist Party ' has been ac- 
SHIRT with how much truth 
or the reverse there is here 
no concern. The origin 
of the expression is to be 
sought in a Corsican custom 
now nearly, if not quite, obso- 
lete. In the days of the fierce 
vendette the feuds which 
divided the Corsicans, family 
from family, bloodshed was a 
common occurrence. Before 
the burial of a murdered man, 
the gridata was celebrated. 
This word, which literally 
means a crying aloud, may be 
translated ' a wake. ' The body 
of the victim was laid upon a 
plank ; his useless firearms 
were placed near his hand, and 
his blood-stained shirt was hung 
above his head. Around the 
rude bier sat a circle of women, 
wrapped in their black mantles, 
who rocked themselves to and 
fro with strange wailings. The 
men, relatives and friends of 
the murdered man, fully 
armed stood around the room, 
mad with thirst for revenge. 
Then one of the women 
the wife or mother or 
sister of the dead man with a 
sharp scream would snatch the 
BLOODY SHIRT, and waving it 
aloft begin the voccro the 
lamentation. This rhythmic dis- 
course was made up of alternate 
expressions of love for the dead, 
and hatred of his enemies ; and 
its startling images and tremen- 
dous curses were echoed in the 
faces and amidst the mutterings 
of the armed mourners. Its 
application to American politics 




is credited to Mr. Oliver P. 
Morton, who, elected United 
States senator in 1867, and 
again in 1873, took a prominent 
part as a leader of the more 
radical Republicans, favouring 
a stern policy of coercion in 
the reconstruction of the 
Southern States. He was one 
of the Presidential Candidates 
at the Cincinnati Convention of 
1876, his name standing second 
on the first ballot. Happily, 
however, his opinions were too 
pronounced to unite the fac- 
tions of his party, and the 
ultimate choice fell upon Mr. 

1888. Coldwater (Mich.) Sun, Jan. 
The BLOODY SHIRT is gradually fading 
away. The white-winged dove of peace 
spreads her wings here and there, 
patriotism forgets and forgives old 
differences, sectionalism is gradually 
giving way to love of country the 
whole country. In fact the ill-feeling 
between the North and South would 
have died out years ago among the 
veterans of both sections, had they been 
left to themselves, and the politicians 
been as patriotic as they. 

1888. New York Weekly Times, 
Mar. 21. It is reprehensible to the last 
degree for the Bourbons of the South to 
continue to play on the colour line the 
Southern BLOODY SHIRT and then de- 
nounce Republican extremists for doing 
the same thing at the North. 

BLOOMER, subs. (Australian prison 
slang). A mistake. Said to be 
an abbreviated form of ' bloom- 
ing error.' See BLOOMING. 

BLOOMING, often BLOOM IN ,/>/>/. adj. 
(common). This word, similar 
in type to ' blessed,' ' blamed,' 
and other words of the kind, is, 
as used by the lower classes, a 
euphemism for BLOODY (q.v.) , but 
it is also frequently employed as 
a mere meaningless intensitive. 
Like the last-named word, little 

count is taken of its exact 
primary meaning. Its slang use 
may be traced to that figurative 
sense of the orthodox word, 
which signifies ' in the bloom 
of health and beauty,' ' in 
the prime, ' ' flourishing,' etc. 
Some uncertainty exists as to 
the origin of this not over- 
ornamental addition to our 
expletive vocabulary. If the 
word is used by Granvil(s^? quot .) 
in its modern sense, then the 
phrase is very much older than 
has hitherto been imagined. 
Barring this, it would seem that 
we are indebted for it to the 
Californian coast, although there 
is little doubt that the chief 
instrument in its acclimatiza- 
tion in England was Mr. Alfred 
G. Vance, the comic singer, 
well-known in connection with 
'Jolly dogs,' and other ex- 
tensively popular music - hall 
songs. As before stated, it 
has very largely supplanted 
1 bloody ' ; BALLY (q.v.) is 
also used in the same manner. 
Its applications are mani- 
fold. One is requested not to 
make any BLOOMING mistake 
or error ; another ' showing off,' 
or ' putting on side," is told not 
to be so BLOOMING flash ; an 
excessively stupid man is spoken 
of as a BLOOMING idiot ; and an 
inquisitive individual is told 
more forcibly than politely, 
perhaps, 'you asks me no 
BLOOMIN' imper'int questions, 
an* I tells yer no BLOOMIN' 

1726. REV. J. GRANVIL, Sadducismits 
triumphatits [under the head of 'The 
Demon of Tedworth' (1661). Granvil 
makes mention that on one occasion the 
spirit came into a room panting like a 
dog, and] company coming up, the room 
was presently filled with a BLOOMING 
noisome smell. 




18(?). COLONEL JOHN HAY, Ballad, 
' The Mystery of Gilgal.' 
He went for his 'leven inch bowie knife : 
I tries to foller a Christian life, 
But I'll drop a slice of liver or two, 
My BLOOMIN' shrub, with you. 

1887. G. R. SIMS, Dagonet Ballads 
(Told to the Missionary). ' I feels like a 
BLOOMIN' babby I gets so infernal weak.' 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 222. 'Afore that I worked in 
the galleries, a making the casemates for 
the guns, and BLOOMING hard work it 
was. 1 

1882. Punch's Almanac, p. 4. THE 
sit Gloria Mundi') 'Andsomc 'Arriet: 
'Owmy! If it 'yn't that BLOOMIN' old 
Temple Bar, as they did aw'y with out 
o' Fleet Street ! ' Mr. Belleville (referring 
to guide book) : ' Now it 'yn't. It's the 
fymous Bridge o' Sighs, as Byron went 
and stood on; 'im as wrote 'Our Boys,' 
yerknow!' 'Andsome 'Arriet: 'Well, 
I never \ ' 

1880. JAS. GREENWOOD, Flyfaker's 
Hotel, in Odd People in Odd Places, p. 59. 
' Who's got any music ? ' presently ex- 
claimed the dirty scoundrel who had 

been mending the boxing-glove; ' 

me, let's have a BLOOMIN' lark! Let's 
have a tune and a song. Who's got any 
BLOOMIN' music? ' 

1884. W. C. RUSSELL, Jack's Court- 
ship, ch. xxxviii. ' And if there's fire 
there ought to be nothen to stop us from 
cooking a BLOOMIN' old goat.' 

1889. Ally Sloper, July 6. Injured 
Innocence : Indignant Son of Labour. 
Well, I'm blowed ! If that 'ere BLOOMIN' 
swell ain't a-himitatin' me 1 

BLOSS, subs, (old, and American 
thieves'). A generic name for 
a woman, whether girl, wife, or 
mistress. Probably from an 
attributive sense of 'blossom.' 
For example, Shakspeare, in 
Titus A ndromicus [1588, iv., 2, 72] , 
employs it in the sense of one 
lovely and full of promise. ' Sweet 
BLOWSE you are a beautious 
BLOSSOME sure ' Tennyson also 
[1847] in the Princess [v., 79] 
uses the expression, ' My babe, 
my BLOSSOM, ah, my child! 1 

1785. GROSK, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BLOSS (cant), the pretended 
wife of a bully or shop-lifter. 

1881. New York Slang Dictionary, 
1 Slang Stories,' p. 42. ' Why, Bell, is it 
yourself? Tip us your daddle, my bene 
mort. May I dance at my death, and 
grin in a class-case, if I didn't think you 
had been put to bed with a shovel. . . .' 
' No, Jim, I only piked into Grassville 
with a dimber-damber, who couldn't 
pad the hoof for a single darkman's 
without his BLOSS to keep him from 
getting pogy.' 

BLOT THE SCRIP, verbal phr. (old). 
To put an undertaking into 
writing ; the modern phrase is 
' to put it in black and white.' 


IT (old), i.e., to stand engaged, 
or bound for anyone. Grose. 
JARK means a seal, and in Oxford 
slang, a safe conduct pass ; in 
the former sense it is retained 
in the patter of modern Ameri- 
can thieves, a synonym being 
JASKER. Jarkman is the name 
given in America to a begging 
letter writer, whose accomplish- 
ments in this respect are varied 
by the production of false 
characters for servants, and 
other documents of a kindred 
nature. This is a case, like 
many others, in which old Eng- 
lish cant terms have, across the 
Atlantic, been invested with a 
new meaning. Formerly a 
jarkman was equivalent to an 
'Abram-man,' i.e., a licensed 

BLOVIATE, verb (American). To 
talk aimlessly and boastingly ; 
to indulge in 'high falutin'. 
[A factitious' word probably 
founded on the verb BLOW, 
sense i, on the model of ' de- 
viate.'] Said to have been in 
use since 1850. 




BLOW, subs, (common). i. A shil- 

Amongst SYNONYMS for this 
coin are beong ; borde ; button ; 
deaner or deener ; bob ; bob- 
stick (old slang) ; breaky-leg ; 
gen (this forms part of the so- 
called back slang) ; hog ; levy ; 
peg ; stag ; teviss ; twelver ; 
touch-me (this is an abbre- 
viated form of touch-me-on- 
the-nob, rhyming slang for 
bob or shilling) ; Abraham's 
willing (also rhyming slang for 
a shilling). 

1879. J. W. HORSLEY, in Macm. 
Mag., XL., 501. But afterwards I got 
35. gd., and then four BLOW. Ibid. I 
went to the Steel (Bastile Coldbath 
Fields Prison), having a new suit of 
clobber on me and about fifty BLOW in 
my brigh (pocket). 

1885. Daily Telegraph, Feb. 5, p. 2, 
col. 6. They said they could sell some 
for five BLOWS (shillings), and that he 
could easily make 158 of the stuff. 

2. (Old University.) A 
drunken frolic ; a spree'. Cf. , 
BLOW-OUT, subs. For syno- 
nyms, see JAMBOREE. 

Verb. i. To boast; to brag ; 
to ' gas ' generally to talk 
boastfully or self - assertingly 
of oneself or one's affairs. In 
this sense TO BLOW, long dia- 
lectically current, is now re- 
garded as slang. It is also 
associated with the idea of 
angry speech, 'storming,' 'fum- 
ing.' Cf., BLOW UP, and for 
synonyms, see GAS. 

c. 1400. Apol. Loll., 97. BLOUING 
veynly wip fleschli wit. [M.] 

1519. Four Elements, in Hazl. Dods- 
ley, I., 41. Why, man, what aileth thee 
so to BLOW ? [M.] 

1785. BURNS, Epistle to J. Lapraik, 
st. 16. I winna BLAW about rnysel ; As 
ill I like my fauts to tell. 

1883. Graphic, Jan. 27, p. 79, col. i. 
The whole team has taught Australia 

not to BLOW (as they say) a not unneeded 

Sketches of Australian Life, p. 45. 'He 
was famous for his coolness and daring, 
and for BLOWING, in Australian parlance, 
both of his exploits and of his " bonnes, 
fortunes." ' 

2. (general.) To inform ; to 
expose ; to betray ; to peach. 
Cf., also BLOW UPON and BLOW 
THE GAB. [This is a trans- 
ferred sense of blow = to breathe 
out ; to give forth by breathing ; 
hence, to sound a signal on an 
instrument ; to blaze abroad as 
by a trumpet.] For synonyms, 
see PEACH. 

1575. Appius and Virg., in Hazl. 
Dpdsley, IV., 136. Was all well agreed ? 
did nobody BLOW ye ? [M.] 

1721. DEFOE, History of Colonel 
Jack. 'As for that,' says Will, 'I could 
tell it well enough, if I had it, but I must 
not be seen anywhere among my old 
acquaintances, for I am BLOWN, and they 
will all betray me.' 

1748. T. DVCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BLOW (v.) . . . also to discover the 
secrets of another; also when a person 
undervalues or slights a person or thing, 
he is said to BLOW upon it. 

a. 1859. L. HUNT, Country Lodgings, 
in Casquet Lit. (1877), I., p. 42, col. i. 
D n me, if I don't BLOW . . . I'll tell 
Tom Neville. [M.] 

3. (American.) To lie ; and 
in a slightly less opprobrious 
sense to ' gas ' so much as to be 
perilously near the border-line 
which separates boasting exag- 
geration from absolute untruth. 

4. (general.) Frequently 
employed euphemistically for 
' to damn ' generally in the im- 
perative. BLOW IT ! i.e. , ' hang 
it ' ! or damn it ! C/., BLOWED, 
with which it is closely allied in 
all senses. 

1849. C. KINGSLEY, Alton Locke, 
ch. ii. ' Well, if you won't stand a pot," 
quoth the tall man, ' I will, that's all, and 
BLOW temperance.' 

Blow a Cloud. 



1883. Miss BRADDON, Golden Calf, 
cli. xxvi. ' BLOW his station in life ! 
If he was a duke I shouldn't want him.' 

5. (general.) To lose or 
spend money. Cf., BLUE. 

6. (University.) To indulge 
in a frolic or spree. Cf., BLOW 
OUT ; also To GO ON THE 

7. (Winchester School.) 
To blush. 


(old cant). To steal goods ; to 
PRIG, which see for synonyms. 

BLOW A CLOUD, verbal phr. (col- 
loquial). To smoke a cigar or 
pipe ; Hotten says, ' a phrase 
used two centuries ago ' but 
gives no authority, and Mur- 
ray's earliest example only dates 
from 1855, but as will be seen 
below, it occurs in Tom Crib in 
1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 

to Congress, p. 39. 

. . . His fame I need not tell, 

For that, my friends, all England's loud 

But this I'll say, a civiller Swell 

I'd never wish to BLOW A CLOUD with. 
1870. M. TWAIN, Innocents Abroad, 

ch. vii. And BLOWING suffocating 

'CLOUDS' and boisterously performing 

at dominoes in the smoking-room at 


en line (popular : ' let's blow a 
cloud ' ; tuber iQ smoke); piper ; 
la fumerie (popular : smoking) ; 
faire du brouillard (' to produce 
or make a fog or mist ') ; en 
bourrer une ; bouffarder. A GER- 
MAN SYNONYM is Escf schwdchen, 
or schweihtn. 

BLOW-BOOK, subs, (old). A book 
containing indelicate or ' smut- 
ty ' pictures. 

1708. Post Man, 8 June. Last Sun- 
day a person did pennance in the Chap- 
ter-House of St. Paul's, London, for 

publickly shewing in Bartholomew Fair 
a book called a BLOW-BOOK, in which 
were many obscene and filthy pictures: 
the book was likewise burnt, and the 
person paid costs. 

(familiar). BLOWED is here a 
euphemism for ' damned ' ; to all 
intents and purposes, it is 
frequently little more than a 
thinly-veiled oath. Hotten 
says that Tom Hood used to 
tell the following story : ' I 
was once asked to contribute to 
a new journal, not exactly 
gratuitously, but at a very 
small advance upon nothing 
and avowedly because the work 
had been planned according to 
that estimate. However, I 
accepted the terms condition- 
ally that is to say, provided 
the principle could be properly 
carried out. Accordingly, I 
wrote to my butcher, baker, 
and other tradesmen, informing 
them that it was necessary, for 
the sake of cheap literature and 
the interest of the reading pub- 
lic, that they should furnish me 
with their several commodities 
at a very trifling per-centage 
above cost price. It will be 
sufficient to quote the answer 
of the butcher : " Sir, Res- 
pectin' your note, Cheap litera- 
ter BE BLOWED ! Butchers 
must live as well as other pepel 
and if so be you or the 
readin' publick wants to have 
meat at prime cost, you must 
buy your own beastesses, and 
kill yourselves. I remain, etc., 
John Stokes." ' 
Cf., BLOW ME ! 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, 
p. 50. Others remonstrating with the 
said Thomas Sludberry, on the impro- 
priety of his conduct, the said Thomas 
Sludberry repeated the aforesaid ex- 
pression, ' You BE BLOWED.' 


2 4 8 Blow Great Guns. 

1863. JEAFFRESON, Live It Doivn, 
III., p. 249. (Cries of ' Chair, Chair,' and 
' Order, order.') ' Order BE SLOWED ! ' 
exclaimed the infuriated Mr. H. 

1864. DICKENS, Our Mutual Friend, 
bk. II., ch. v. ' HOLIDAY BE BLOWED ! ' 
said Fledgely, entering, ' What have yon 
got to do with holidays ? ' 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 244. ' No," says she, ' we've got 
some more besides that, and enough, too, 
to take us to France. BLOWED, old man, 
if we don't go to Paris, and there we can 
g et 3 f r them.' 

1879. Punch's Almanac, p. 7. Sea- 
sonable Slang. For Spring. You BE 
BLOWED ! For Summer. I'll warm yer ! 
For Autumn. Not so blooming green ! 
For Winter. An ice little game all 

1889. Ally Sloper's H. H., Aug. 3, 
p. 242, col. 2. ' BLOWED if I'd have made 
her Mrs. Juggins, if I'd have known she 
wor going to make a footstool of me ! ' 

BLOWEN or BLOWING, subs, (old.) 
This word appears to have 
passed through a series of ups 
and downs in the course of its 
career. Originally signifying a 
woman, without special refer- 
ence to moral character, it sub- 
sequently came to mean a showy 
courtesan, or a prostitute. It 
still retains the latter meaning, 
but is frequently used in a more 
complimentary sense than here- 
tofore to signify a finely built 
handsome girl. In America 
among the criminal classes it 
is only used to designate a 
mistress. Its derivation is 
extremely uncertain, the two 
most important suggestions 
being that it comes (i) from the 
reputation having been ' blown 
upon ' ; and (2) that in Wilts 
BLOWEN signifies a blossom 
hence BLOWEN a flower ; a pet. 

1688. SHADWELL, Sq. of Alsatia, I., 
in wks. (1720) IV., 17. What ogling there 
will be between thee and the BLOWINGS ! 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 
p. 143. BLOWEN, a woman. 

1812. J. H. VAUX, Flash Diet. 
BLOWEN, a prostitute: a woman who 
cohabits with a man without marriage. 

1847. LYTTON, Lttcrctia, pt. II., ch. 
ii. ' If she's a good girl, and loves you, 
she'll not let you spend your money on 
her.' ' I haint such a ninny as that,' said 
Beck, with majestic contempt. ' I 'spises 
the flat that is done brown by the 

1848. C. KINGSLEY, Yeast, ch. xi. 
Why don't they have a short simple 
service now and then, that might catch 
the ears of the roughs and the BLOWENS, 
without tiring out the poor thoughtless 
creatures' patience, as they do now ? 

For synonyms in the sense of 
prostitute, see BARRACK-HACK. 

BLOWER, subs. (old). i. A girl; a 
contemptuous name in opposi- 
tion to JOMER (q.v.) ; given by 
Grose [1785] . 

2. (American and Colonial.) 
A good talker ; a boaster ; a 
'gas-bag.' Cf., BLOW, verb, 
sense i. 

1863. MANHATTAN, in Evening 
Standard, 10 Dec. General Grant . . . 
is not one of the BLOWER generals. [M.] 

1864. Spectator, 22 Oct., 1202, col. i. 
Notorious among our bar and the public 
as a BLOWER. [M.] 

1871. DE VERE, Americanisms, p. 

584. ' You need not blow so, my friend, 
don't believe a word of what you say.' 
Hence also the noun BLOWER, a braggart, 
with special reference to his success in 
imitating Baron Munchausen. 

3. A pipe. Cf., BLOW A 


BLOW GREAT GUNS, verbal phr. (pop- 
ular). To blow a hurricane ; 
a violent gale. Sometimes 
varied by to BLOW GREAT GUNS 




Jack Sheppard [1889], 23. ' Curse me, if 
I don't think all the world means to 
cross the Thames this fine night!' 
observed Ben. ' One'd think it rained 
fares as well as BLOWED GREAT GUNS. 

Blow hard. 


Blow Out. 

Why, there's another party on the stair- 
head inquiring arter scullers; and, by 
the mass ! they appear in a greater 
hurry than any of us.' 

1854. H. MILLER, Sch. and Schm. 
(1858), 14. It soon began to BLOW GREAT 

GUNS. [M.] 

BLOWHARD, subs. (American). A 
Western term of revilement, 
the precise meaning of which it 
would be difficult to explain, 
since a newcomer may, in one 
and the same breath, be called 


all these are synonymous, then 
indeed the Englishman in 
America is in a bad way. Cf., 
BLOWER, sense 2. 

BLOW HOT AND COLD, verbal phr. 
(familiar). To be treacherous ; 
inconsistent ; vacillating. There 
is an allusion in the expression 
to one of ./Esop's fables. 

1577. W. BuLLiNGER.Dccflrffs (1592), 
176. One which out of one mouth, 


1756. The World, No. 185. This 
old fellow is of a most capricious, un- 
equal temper, and, like the satyr in the 
fable, BLOWS HOT AND COLD in the same 

1856. MOTLEY, Dutch Rep., V., v., 
750. Being constantly ordered ' to BLOW 
HOT AND COLD with the same breath.' 

BLOWING UP, subs, (colloquial). 
A scolding ; a severe repri- 
mand ; a jobation. See BLOW 
UP. The French equivalent is 
a/res (, i.e., 'agonies.' 

1839. HALIBURTON, Letter-Bag Gt. 
West, IV., 42. I would give him a good 

1874. MRS. H. WOOD, Johnny Lud- 
low, i S., No. xxv., p. 448. The waves 
dashed over the pier, ducking the three 
or four venturesome spirits who went on 
there. I was one and received a good 
BLOWING UP from Mr. Brandon for my 

BLOW IN ONE-S PIPE, verbal phr. 
(American). A transatlantic 
equivalent of to BLOW or BLEW 
[one's money] ; i.e., to spend it. 

TIGHT I intj. phr. (popular). 
Expressions which, like SLOWED 
(q.v.), serve either as half- 
veiled oaths or as merely big 
sounding but meaningless ex- 

1781. G. PARKER, View of Society, 
I., 48. 'BLOW ME UP (says he) if I have 
had a fellow with such rum toggys cross 
my company these many a day.' 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 
to Congress. 

Says Bill 'there's nothing like a Bull 
And BLOW ME TIGHT' Bill Gibbons 


In all his days was known to swear, 
Except light oaths, to grace his speeches, 
Like ' dash my wig ' or ' burn my breeches,' 
1 BLOW ME ' 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Life and Adven- 
tures of a Cheap Jack, p. 25. Here BLOW 
ME, I'll do such a thing I never did 
before, I'll say thirty yes, thirty shil- 
lings buys the lot, and I'll have no more 
nor take no less. 

BLOW ONE'S BAZOO, verbal phr. 
(American). To boast ; to 
swagger ; to gasconade. [From 
the Dutch bazu, an abbreviation 
of bazuin, a trumpet ; hence an 
equivalent of the English 'to 
blow one's own trumpet'.] 

BLOW ONESELF OUT, verb (com- 
mon). To eat heartily; to 
gorge oneself. See BLOW OUT. 

1837. BARHAM, /. L. (Babes in the 

In the dog-days, don't be so absurd 
As to BLOW YOURSELVES OUT with green- 

gages ! 

BLOW OUT, subs, (common). A 
gluttonous feast, a heavy ' feed,' 
or entertainment. Also called 
a TUCK IN, which see for syno- 



Blow Up. 

nyms. Cf., BLOW ONESELF 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, II., 
264. ' She sent me a card for her BLOW- 
OUT,' said Mowbray, 'and so I am 
resolved to go.' 

1847. TH. HOOK, Man of Many Friends. 
The giving good feeds is, with many of 
these worthies, the grand criterion by 
which the virtues and talents of man- 
kind are measured . . . these persons 
call a similar favour either a ' spread ' or 
a ' BLOW-OUT.' 

1852. H. B. STOWE, Uncle Tom's 
Cabin, ch. viii. ' Get us hot water, and 
sugar, and cigars, and plenty of the real 
stuff, and we'll have a BLOW-OUT.' 

Verb (thieves'). To steal. 
For synonyms, see PRIG. 


subs. (old). i.. A beggar's trull ; 
a wench. 

2. A slatternly woman, es- 
pecially one with dishevelled 
hair. Thought to be of canting 
origin. In Grose's time the 
term was humorously varied 
by Blowsabella, in reference to 
the country girl in Gay's pastoral 
poem, 'The Shepherd's Week,' 
which depicts rural life in its 
character of poverty and rude- 
ness, rather than as clothed in 
the colours of romance. 

We, fair, fine ladies, who park out our 

From common sheep-paths, cannot help. 

the crows, 

From flying over ; we're as natural still 
As Blousalinda. 

1557. TUSSER, Husbandrie, ch. xvi., 
st. 37, p. 43 (E.D.S.). Whiles Gillet, his 
BLOUSE, is a milking thy cow. 

1605. CHAPMAN, All Foolcs, Act iv., 
p. 68 (Plays, 1874). 
Wed without my advice, my love, my 

Ay, and a beggar, too, a trull, a BLOWSE ! 

1638. FORD, Lady's Trial, III., i. 
Wench is your trull, your BLOUZE, your 

1705. WARD, Hitdibras Rcdivivus, 
vol. 11., pt. VII., p. 20. 

So the old Babylonian BLOUZE, 
And her demure fanatick Spouse. 
1851. THACKERAY, English Humo- 
rists, p. 167. Are not the Rosalindas of 
Britain as charming as the BLOUSA- 
LINDAS of the Hague? 

BLOW THE GAB or GAFF, verbal phr. 
(common). To reveal, or 'let 
out ' a secret ; to peach. Cf., 
GAFF, GAG and GAB. For 
synonyms, see PEACH. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. To BLOW THE GAB (cant), 
to confess, or impeach a confederate. 

1833. MARRYAT, Peter Simple, ch. 
xliii. ' One of the French officers, after 
he was taken prisoner, axed me how we 
had managed to get the gun up there ; 
but I wasn't going to BLOW THE GAFF.' 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. ii., p. 122. The prisoner, burning for 
revenge, quietly bides his time till the 
chief warder comes round, then asks to 
speak to him, and ' BLOWS THE GAFF.' 

BLOW THE GRAMPUSE, verbal phr. 
(nautical). To throw cold 
water on a man who has fallen 
asleep when on duty. 

BLOW THE GROUNDSELS, verbal phi'. 
(old). To have sexual com- 
merce on the ground. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
(cant), to lie with a woman on the floor. 

BLOW TOGETHER, verbal phr. 
(tailors'). To make garments in 
a slovenly manner. 

BLOW UP, subs, (colloquial). A 
scolding ; a ' wigging ' ; a rail- 

1809. SIR W CELL, in C. K. 
Sharpe's Correspondence (1888), I., 355. 
There won't be any quarrel, so you need 
not fear. The only chance is Keppel 
making a BLOW UP when she abuses me. 

1849. THACKERAY, Pendcnnis, ch. 
Ixviii. Morgan had had ' a devil of a 
BLOW HUP with his own guv'nor, and 
was going to retire from the business 

Blow Upon. 

25 1 


1855. THACKERAY, Newcomcs, ch. 
vii. ' Mind the hice is here in time; or 
they'll be a BLOW UP with your governor.' 

Verb (colloquial). To scold. 

1809. SIR W. CELL, in C. K. 
Sharpe's Correspondence (1888), I., 355. 
I have heard her daughter BLOW UP 
Lady Salisbury when she had quarrelled 
with Lady Sefton. 

1883. G. A. S[ALA], in Illust. L. 
Neii's, June 16, p. 599, col. i. That the 
'aughty nobleman should BLOW UP the 
clerk for presuming to take a seat in his 


(American). The American, 
fond of doing everything with 
unusual energy, likes to BLOW 
UP SKY-HIGH, an addition which 
lends colour to the supposition 
that probably the phrase is 
originally a nautical one, and 
really borrowed from the blow- 
ing up of a vessel, much as the 
meaning of the words must have 
evaporated before it reached the 
present stage. 

BLOW UPON (old). To betray; to 
tell tales of ; to discredit ; to 
defame. See BLOW, verb, sense 
2. Used also with indirect 

1402. [? T. OCCLEVE], Letter of 
Cupid, in Arber's Garner, vol. IV., p. 61. 
Thus they despised be, on every side, 
Dislandered and BLOWN UPON full 

1750. FIELDING, Tom Jones, bk. X., 
ch. ii. ' That the reputation of her house, 
which was never BLOWN UPON before, 
was utterly destroyed.' 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
II., p. 239. It fortunately occurred to 
me, that if I gave it him myself, I could 
be of no farther use. I should have been 
BLOWN UPON immediately. 

1864. DICKENS, Our Mutual Friend, 
bk. III., ch. xii. 'The condition of our 
affairs is desperate, and may be BLOWN 
UPON at any moment.' 

_1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. i., p. 4. Both desisted from their own 

recriminations as to ' rounding ' and 
' BLOWING ' ON each other. 

1882. JAS. PAYN, in G/otc< Worm Tales, 
p. 301. ' An Improvement on a System.' 
If Mr. Prince had caught me before his 
establishment had got ' BLOWN UPON ' in 
the public prints, he might have per- 
suaded me to become an inmate of the 
Agapemone. I hope I should not have 
approved of the manner of life in vogue 
at that institution, but I make no doubt 
that I should have fallen in with it with- 
out much resistance. 

BLUB. See BLUBBER, verb. 

BLUBBER, subs, (common). I. 
The mouth. From the figura- 
tive use of the word, especially 
of anything swollen or pro- 
truding, as of the lips. For 
synonyms, see POTATO-TRAP. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. I have stopped the 
cull's BLUBBER, I have stopped the 
fellow's mouth. 

2. A woman's breasts. See 
SPORT BLUBBER, and for syno- 
nyms, DAIRIES. 

Verb (familiar). To cry ; to 
weep used contemptuously. 
Also shortened into BLUB. 

1400. Test. Love, II. (1560), 283, i. Han 
women none other wrech . . . but 
BLOBtR and wepe till hem list stint. [M ] 

1748. SMOLLETT, Roderick- Random, 
xliv. (1804), 202. He BLUBBERED like a 
great school-boy who had been whipped. 

1826. SCOTT, Woodstock, IV. Phrebe 
Mayflower BLUBBERED heartily for com- 
pany. [M.] 

To SPORT BLUBBER, phr. (com- 
mon). To show one's breasts, 
said of women, especially those 
with large and prominent 

BLUBBER AND GUTS, snbs. (com- 
mon). Obesity ; a low term. 

BLUBBER-BELLY, subs, (common). 
A fat person. 

Blubber Head, 



BLUBBER HEAD, subs, (common). 
A toolish, empty-headed indi- 
vidual. See APARTMENTS TO 

BLUCHER (ch. hard), subs. (Win- 
chester College). i. A College 
praefect in half power. Their 
jurisdiction does not extend 
beyond ' Seventh Chamber pas- 
sage,' though their privileges 
are the same as those of other 
prasfects. They are eight in 

1864. Blackwood, p. 86. The re- 
maining eight college praefects (called in 
Winchester tongue, BLUCHERS) have a 
more limited authority, confined to 
Chambers and the Quadrangle. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 30. The eight 
senior praefects were said to have ' full 
power,' and had some slight^ privileges 
not enjoyed by the remaining ten, who 
were generally called BLUCHERS. 

2. A non-privileged cab ply- 
ing at railway stations. The 
origin of the name and its 
application, as far as known, 
is given in the two following 

1864. Soc. Sc. Review, I., p. 406. 
The railway companies recognise two 
other classes of cabs, called the 'pri- 
vileged'. . . and the ' BLUCHERS, 'named 
after the Prussian Field-Marshal who 
arrived on the field of Waterloo only to 
do the work that chanced to be undone. 

1870. Athenceum, 5 March, p. 328. 
Non-privileged cabs, which are admitted 
to stations after all the privileged have 
been hired, are known as BLUCHERS. 

BLUDGEONER, subs, (harlotry). A 
bully ; pimp ; ponce ; a man 
attached to a house of ill-fame 
for the purpose of terrorising 
victims, and rendering easier 
the task of plunder. [From 
BLUDGEON, a stout stick or club, 
-f ER or EER ; i.e., one armed 
with the weapon in question.] 

1852. lllackuood's Magazine, p. 224. 
Those brutal BLUDGEONEERS ... go out 
... in gangs to poach. [M.J 

1855. TROLLOPE, Warden, xiv., p. 
144. Old St. Dunstan with its smiting 
BLUDGEONEER has been removed. 

BLUDGER, subs, (thieves'). A low 
thief, who does not hesitate to 
use violence ; literally one who 
will use a bludgeon. Cf., 

1856. H. MAYHEW, Gt. World of 
London, p. 46. Those who plunder with 
violence ; as ... BLUDGERS or ' stick 
slingers,' who rob in company with low 

BLUDGET, subs. (American). This 
is given in the New York Slang 
Dictionary [i88ij as ' a low 
female thief, who decoys her 
victims into alley-ways, etc., 
to rob them. 1 Cf., BLUDGER. 

BLUE. Few words enter more 
largely into the composition of 
slang, and colloquialisms bor- 
dering on slang, than does the 
word BLUE. Expressive alike 
of the utmost contempt, as of all 
that men hold dearest and love 
best, its manifold combinations, 
in ever varying shades of mean- 
ing, greet the philologist at 
every turn. A very Proteus, 
it defies all attempts to trace the 
why and wherefore of many of 
the turns of expression of which 
it forms a part why true BLUE 
should be synonymous with 
faithful, staunch adherence to 
one's faith and principles ; or 
why, on the other hand, to look 
BLUE should signify affected 
with fear, dismayed, and low- 
spirited. Curiously enough, the 
historical method helps but little 
to decide why in one case an 
exact reversal of meaning should 
have taken place in the appli- 




cation of the word ; for, as far as 
the evidence is concerned, both 
the good and bad shades of mean- 
ing appear to run contempora- 
neously. It is also noteworthy 
that the word enters largely 
into the slang of nationalities 
other than our own; indeed, 
one of the most curious, as well 
as one of the most interesting 
facts connected with the com- 
parative study of slang, is that 
which reveals the oneness of the 
human race in its modes of 
thought and speech, the Tower 
of Babel notwithstanding. This 
special feature of slang will, to 
some extent, be found dealt with 
at the end of this work ; but the 
subject is too wide, and the 
field too vast, for one student to 
have accomplished much single- 
handed. This, however, may be 
said ; that, comparing the slang 
of one nation with that of 
another, one finds the same ideas 
cropping up, revealing, alas ! the 
same follies and foibles, but 
also showing, let it be said, 
in the few cases where slang 
travels beyond the earthy and 
the sensual, the same aspira- 
tions, the same endeavour, and 
the same hope. 

Subs. i. A policeman. [From 
the colour of the uniform.] 
This epithet can be traced back 
to Elizabethan days [see BLUE- 
BOTTLE] , and the uniform seems 
to have been blue from time 
immemorial ; indeed, this colour 
appears from the earliest times 
to have been the badge of servi- 
tude. Pliny tells us blue was 
the colour in which the Gauls 
clothed their slaves ; and, for 
many ages, blue coats were the 
liveries of servants, apprentices, 
and those in humble stations of 
life to wit, the blue-clad 

beadles, the ' varlets ' who wore 
the blue, the blue-coat boys, and 
even harlots in a house of cor- 
rection, who wore blue as a 
dress of ignominy. The proverb 
quoted by Ray, ' he's in his 
better blue clothes,' i.e., 'he 
thinks himself wondrous fine,' 
has reference to the livery of a 
servant. The police more re- 
cently have been known col- 
lectively as BLUES, the MEN IN 


all nicknames referring to the 
colour of the uniform. For 
general synonyms, see BEAK. 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iv., p. 257. He would chatter gaily 
and enter with great gusto into the 
details of some cleverly executed ' bit of 
business,' or ' bilking the BLUES,' 
evading the police. 

18(?). HOOD, Row at the 'Oxford 
Well, that's the row, and who can guess 

the upshot after all ? 
Whether Harmony will ever make the 

' Arms ' her house of call ; 
Or whether this here mobbing, as some 

longish heads fortell it, 
Will grow to such a riot that the Oxford 

BLUES must quell it. 

2. A BLUE is known to 
licensed victuallers and their 
customers in certain districts of 
Wales as a compromise between 
the half-pint and the pint pot. 
It is not recognised as a legal 
measure by the authorities on 
weights and measures, but it is 
approaching to something like a 
status, as it deserves to do in 
the interests of temperance. 
Although there is no Board of 
Trade standard of the BLUE, and 
inspectors have no power to 
stamp measures of this denomi- 
nation for use in trade, the 
Board of Trade has pointed out 
to the local authorities that 




there is nothing in the Weights 
and Measures Act to prevent 
the use of the BLUE or to make 
its possessor liable to penalties, 
always provided of course that 
the vessel is not used as a 

3. A scholar of Christ's 
Hospital ; a blue-coat boy. 
[This nickname is also derived 
from the colour of the clothes 
a blue drugget gown or body 
with ample skirts to it, a yellow 
vest underneath in winter time, 
small clothes of Russia duck, 
worsted yellow stockings, a 
leathern girdle, and a little black 
worsted cap, usually carried in 
the hand, being the complete 
costume. This was the ordinary 
dress of children in humble life 
during the reigns of the Tudors.] 

1834. W. TROLLOPE (Title), Christ's 
Hospital . . . with memoirs of Eirim.-nt 

1877. W. H. BLANCH, Blue-Coat 
Boys, p. 33. To some extent it holds also 
with regard to Civil Engineers, amongst 
whom, however, one well-known name 
is that of a BLUE. 

4. Short for BLUE-STOCKING 
(q v.) ; formerly a contemptuous 
term for a woman having or 
affecting literary tastes. 

1788. MADAME D'ARBLAY, Diary 
(1876), iv., 219. He was a little the more 
anxious not to be surprised to-night, but 
his being too tired for walking should 
be imputed to his literary preference of 
reading to a BLUE. At tea Miss Planta 
again joined us, and instantly behind 
him went the book ; he was very right, 
for nobody would have thought it more 
odd or more BLUE. 

1823. BYRON, Don Juan, ch. xi., st. 
50. The BLUES, that tender tribe, who 
sigh o'er sonnets. 

1845. DISRAELI, Sybil, p. 76. ' But 
she was very clever . . . ' ' Accom- 
plished ? ' ' Oh, far beyond that . . . ' 
'A regular BLUE.' 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY (' Cuthbert 
Bede'), Adventures of Verdant Green, I., 
p. 7. His Aunt Virginia was as learned a 
BLUE as her esteemed ancestress in the 

court of Elizabeth, the very Virgin 
Queen of BLUES. 

5. Female learning or pe- 

1824. BYRON, Don Juan, xvi., 47. 
Shealsohada twilight tinge of BLUE. [M.] 

6. (University.) At Oxford 
and Cambridge a man is said to 
get his BLUE when selected as a 
competitor in inter-university 
sports. The University colours 
are, for Oxford, dark blue ; 
and for Cambridge, light blue. 
Cf., To GET ONE'S SILK, said of 
a barrister when made Queen's 

Adj. i. A contemptuous 
epithet applied usually to 
women of literary tastes. See 
have elk est blene celle-ld ; en voild 
une de Ueue;je la troitve bleue. 

1788. MAD. D'ARBLAY, Diary (1842), 
iv., p. 219. Nobody would have thought 
it more odd or more BLUE. 

1834. SOUTHEY, The Doctor, ch. 
Ixxxix. Les Dames des Roches, both 
mother and daughter were remarkable 
and exemplary women ; and there was 
a time when Poictiers derived as much 
glory from those BLUE ladies as from the 
Black Prince. 

1839. LEVER, Harry Lorrcqiicr, ch. 
xi. She was a little, a very little BLUE 
rather a babbler in the ' ologies ' than 
a real disciple. 

1842. DICKENS, American Notes, ch. 
iii., p. 33. BLUE ladies there are, in 
Boston; but like philosophers of that 
colour and sex in most other latitudes, 
they rather desire to be thought superior 
than to be so. 

1852. F. E. SMEDLEY, Lewis A t undel, 
ch. xxxiii. She had been growing de- 
cidedly BLUE. Not only had she, under 
Bray's auspices, published a series of 
papers in Bhtnt's Magazine, but she had 
positively written a child's book. 

18G4. Spectator, No. 1875, p. 660. A 
clever, sensible woman, rather BLUE. 

2. Indecent ; ' smutty ' ; ob- 
scene. This may be derived 
from the blue dress of harlots 
see preceding, subs., i although 
Hotten suggests it as coming 




from the French Bibliothcqne 
Bleu, a series of books of 
very questionable character. 
Books or conversation of an 
entirely opposite nature are 
said to be BROWN or Quakerish, 
i.e., serious, grave, decent. 

3. Gloomy ; fearful ; de- 
pressed ; low - spirited. C/., 


and IN THE BLUES. Possibly an 
allusion to the blueness of cold. 

1857. A. TROLLOPE, Three Clerks, 
ch. xxviii. Charley replied that neither 
had he any money at home. ' That's 
BLUE,' said the man. ' It is rather BLUE,' 
said Charley. 

1862. TROLLOPE, Orley Farm, I., p. 
93. It's BLUE; uncommon BLUE. 

1864. YATES, Broken to Harness, I., 
p. Go. ' My dear Charlie,' said the girl 
. . . 'That certainly is a BLUE look-out,' 
she continued for however earnest was 
her purpose she would not but express 
herself in her slang metaphor. 

1872. S. L. CLEMENS (' Mark Twain'), 
Roughing It, ch. xl. I kept up my BLUE 

1874. S. L. CLEMENS (' Mark Twain'), 
Gilded Age, ch. xxvii. I had forgotten 
dear, but when a body gets BLUE, a body 
forgets everything. ... I am sorry I was 
BLUE, but it did seem as if everything 
had been going against me for whole ages. 

Verb. i. To blush. Cf.,stibs., 
sense 3. 

1709. STEELE AND SWIFT, Tatler, 
No. 71, p. 8. If a Virgin blushes, we no 
longer cry she BLUES. [M.] 

2. To pawn; pledge; spend; 
actually to get rid of money 
quickly. C/., BLEW. There are 
two suggested derivations of the 
word when used in this sense ; 
(i) that it is connected with 
' blown,' i.e., dissipated or scat- 
tered ; and (2) that money so 
squandered has disappeared as 
effectually as if it had passed 
into the BLUE, i.e., the sky or the 
deep sea. The German has ins 
blaue hinein, ' away into the blue,' 
equivalent to the French passer 

an bleu. Faire passer au bleu is to 
dissipate, spend, or squander. 
For synonyms, in the sense of 
to pawn, see POP. 

1880. Punch's Almanac, p. 2. This 
top coat ? would BLUE IT. 

1887. Punch, 10 Sept., p. in. I never 
minds BLUEING the pieces purvided I 
gets a good spree. 

3. To miscalculate ; ' to 
make a " mess " of anything ' ; 
to mull. 

4. (thieves'.) To steal ; to 
plunder. To BE BLUED, to be 
robbed. For synonyms, see PRIG. 

(popular). A euphemistic oath ; 
probably meaning ' by Heaven.' 
It may be compared with the 
Frenchparbleii, synonymous with 
par Dicn. 

1840. MARRYAT, Poor Jack, xxiii. 
' The black cat, by ALL THAT'S BLUE ! ' 
cried the Captain. 

MEN IN BLUE, phr. (popular). 
The police. See BLUE, subs., 
sense i. 

1882. BESANT, All Sorts and Cond. 
of Men, ch. xliii. 'You must now begin 
to think seriously about handcuffs and 
prison, and MEN IN BLUE.' 

1886. G. A. APPERSON, Graphic, 30 

n., p. 137. The police in recent times 
ve been known as the BLUES and the 


TILL ALL is EL.VE,phr. (popu- 
lar) . i . To the utmost ; to the 
end ; for an indefinite period. 
Smyth, in his Sailors' Word 
Book, says this phrase is bor- 
rowed from the idea of a vessel 
making out of port and getting 
into deep water. 

1835. HALIBURTON, TheClockmaker, 
2 S., ch. xix. [The land] could be made 
to carry wheat till ALL'S BLUE again. 
Ibid, 3 S., ch. xx. Your mother kickin' 
and screamin' till ALL WAS BLUE again. 

1850. SMEDLEY, Frank Fairlegh, I., 
p. 184. I'll have at her again, and dance 
TILL ALL'S BLUE before I give in. 




2. When applied to drinking, 
TILL ALL is BLUE signifies 
exceeding tipsy. As will be 
seen, this usage is somewhat 
ancient. It is an allusion to 
the supposed effect of drinking 
on the eyesight. An analogous 
French expression is avoir un coup 
d'bleu (to be slightly tipsy). 

1616. R. C., Times' IVhis., v., 1835. 
They drink . . . Vntil their adle heads 
doe make the ground Seeme BLEW vnto 

1638. FORD, Lady's Trial, iv., 2. We 
can drink TILL ALL LOOK BLUE. 

1837. BARHAM, I. L. (Lay of St. 

' I have nothing to do : 
And 'fore George, I'll sit here and I'll 

drink TILL ALL'S BLUE !' 

To LOOK BLUE, ph Y. (popular). 
To be confounded ; surprised ; 
astonished ; annoyed or dis- 
appointed. French equivalents 
are en rester tout bleu ; en etre bleu ; 
en bailler tout bleu ; and baba from 
ebahi, astounded. 

c. 1600. Rob. 

84. It made the sunne LOOKE BLUE. [M.] 

1754. B. MARTIN, Eng. Diet. BLUE, 

adj. ... 2, blank, or cast down; as, he 


1884. Cornhill Mag., Jan., p. in. 
The prudent (and sagacious) officer 
LOOKED BLUE. But he speedily re- 
covered himself. 


(popular). To curse ; to swear ; 
to use profane language. C/., 
BLUE, adj., sense 2. 

TRUE BLUE, phr. (colloquial). 
Faithful ; genuine ; real ; an 
allusion to blue as the colour of 
constancy. A reference either 
to the deep blue of the sky or 
sea suggestive of interminable- 
ness ; or, it may be derived as 
was ' Coventry blue,' from a 
dye that would neither change 
its colour nor be discharged by 
washing ; hence figuratively, to 

signify persons or things of 
sterling character or quality. 
In neither case is the argument 
clear or decisive ; there is cer- 
tainly no reason in nature why 
the colour and cardinal virtue 
should be thus associated. Blue 
skies and blue seas are prover- 
bially deceitful, and on the 
other hand, the expression 
seems too old a one to owe its 
origin to the dyer's skill. 

1383. CHAUCER, Squiere's Tale. 
And by hire bedde's hed she made a mew, 
And covered it with velouettes BLEW, 
In signe of trouthethat is in woman sene. 

Ibid, Court of Love, line 246. 
So you dir folke (quod she) that knele in 


They were the colour ay and ever shal, 
In signe they were, and ever wil be true, 
Withoutin change. 

BLUE APRON, subs, (common). 
A tradesman. 

1721. AMHERST, Terra Fil., xliii., 
230. For if any saucy BLUE-APRON dares 
to affront any venerable person ... all 
scholars are immediately forbid to have 
any dealing or commerce with him. 

1868. BREWER, Dictionary of Phrase 
and Fable, p. q8. A BLUE-APRON states- 
man, a lay politician, a tradesman who 
interferes with the affairs of the nation. 
The reference is to the BLUE APRON once 
worn by nearly all tradesmen, but now 
restricted to butchers, poulterers, fish- 
mongers, and so on. 

BLUEBACKS, subs. i. The paper 
money of the Confederates. A 
cant name, originating, as in the 
case of United States paper cur- 
rency GREENBACKS, in the colour 
of the printing on the reverse. 
A more pronounced slang name, 
subsequently applied to BLUE- 
BACKS, was ' shucks,' from their 
worthlessness after the war.* 
1 Shucks ' is an old English 
term for the refuse of peas and 
similar products when shelled. 

Blue Bellies. 



1871. DE VERE, Americanisms, p. 
291. The confederate notes bore, for the 
same reason, the name of BLUEBACKS, 
which was, however, soon exchanged for 
the slang term of shucks. 

2. The Orange Free State 
paper money. 

1878. TROLLOPS, South Africa, II., 
p. 206. BLUEBACKS, as they were called, 
were printed. Ibid, p. 222. The BLUE- 
BACKS as the Orange Free State bank- 
notes were called. 

BLUE BELLIES. A nickname be- 
stowed by Southerners, during 
the Civil War, upon their 
opponents of the North, whose 
uniform was blue. They were 
also called BOYS IN BLUE, 
YANKS, etc. The Southerners, 
on the other hand, received 
such names as THE SECESH, 
latter being sometimes short- 
ened to JOHNNIES. The grey 
uniform of the Confederates 
likewise caused them to be 
styled BOYS IN GREY and GREY- 
BACKS, the latter epithet cutting 
two ways, as the Southern 
soldiers not only wore grey 
uniforms, but ' greyback ' in 
America as well as England 
signifies a louse. 

1883. Daily Telegraph, Feb. 9, p. 5, 
col. 4. The Confederate armies during 
the great Civil War in America . . . were 
known ... as 'Greybacks,' whereas their 
Federal opponents, from the light-azure 
gaberdines which they wore, were dub- 

BLUE BILLS, subs. (Winchester 
College). The tradesmen's bills 
sent home to the parents and 
guardians of students. [So 
called from the colour of the 
envelopes generally used.] 

BLUE BILLY, subs, (pugilistic). i. 
A handkerchief (blue ground 
with white spots) sometimes 

worn and used as a colour at 

prize-fights. See BILLY, sense i. 

2. (mining.) See quotation. 

1887. 'Death of BLUE BILLY,' in 
Chamb. Jour., Dec. 17, p. 812. BLUE BILLY 
is the technical name given to the lime 
rendered foul in the purification of the 

BLUE BLANKET, subs, (common). 
i. The sky. This simile is an 
old one ; Defoe's use of it may 
probably have been suggested 
by Shakspeare's ' blanket of 
the dark ' (Macbeth, I., v.). 

c. 1720. DEFOE, Hist, of Devil, 
quoted in N. and Q. t 7 S., ii., 289; see 
also 7 S., ii., 492. We must be content 
till we come on the other side the BLUE 
BLANKET, and then we shall know the 
whole story. 

1877. GREENWOOD, Under the Blue 
Blanket. The vagrant brotherhood have 
several slang terms for sleeping out in a 
field or meadow. It is called ' snoozing 
in Hedge Square ' ; dossing with the 
daisies ' ; and ' lying under the BLUE 


The French say, ' coucher a 
I' hotel de I'Etoile,' i.e., 'to sleep 
at the Star Hotel ' ; while in 
the Fourbesque, or Italian cant, 
heaven or the sky is termed 
copertore, a covering or blanket. 

2. (common.) A rough over- 
coat made of coarse pilot cloth. 


BLUE BOAR, subs. (old). A certain 
venereal disease. 

BLUE-BOTTLE, subs, (popular). i. 
A policeman. This epithet, at 
one time applied generally 
to all wearers of a dark blue 
uniform, is now invariably un- 
derstood to mean a guardian of 
the peace. It is one of the 
oldest of the nicknames given 
to members of the force, and 
occurs as far back as 1598. 




Cf., BLUE, sense i, and see 
BEAK for synonyms. 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, 2 Henry IV., 
v., 4. Dall [addressing beadle] . . . you 
BLUE-BOTTLE rogue, you filthy famished 

1852. F. E. SMEDLEY, Lewis Arttn- 
del, ch. Ixiv. ' Police, indeed ! ' mut- 
tered Charley, ' the General can't 
remember that he is out of London . . . 
These confounded sulky Austrian offi- 
cials are rather different customers to 
deal with from our BLUE-BOTTLES. 
Messrs. Ai and Co. 

1864. SALA, in Daily Telegraph, Sept. 
13. Caught in his own toils by the BLUE- 
BOTTLES of Scotland Yard. [M.] 

1864. Blacku'ood's Mag., p. 15. He 
who could summon to his aid every 
alphabetical BLUE-BOTTLE that ever 
handled a truncheon. 

1888. MIDDLETON, Michaelmas Term. 
And to be free from the interruption of 
BLUE BEADLES, and other bawdy officers. 

2. A serving-man, blue hav- 
ing been the usual habit of 
servants. Cf., BLUE-COAT. 

1602. Honest Whore, O. PI., iii., 389. 
You proud varlets, you need not be 
ashamed to wear BLUE, when your master 
is one of your fellows. 

1608. DEKKER, Belman, sign E., 3. 
The others act their parts in blew coatcs, 
as (if) they were their serving-men. 

Hence BLUE-BOTTLE is some- 
times a term of reproach for a 
servant. {Case Altered,!. ,2. O. 
PI., v., 6.] And a serving-man, 
in B. Jonson, says, ' Ever since 
I was of the blue order.' 

About 1608, when Middle- 
ton's Comedy of A Trick to catch 
the Old One was produced, the blue- 
coats of servants appear to have 
been changed for cloaks, such as 
were worn by the upper classes 
also at that time. Thus, in that 
comedy [Act ii., Anc. Drama, 
v., p. 151]: There's more true 
honesty in such a country serv- 
ing man, than in a hundred of 
our cloak companions. I may 
well call 'em companions, for 
since blue coats have been turned 

into cloaks, one can scarce 
know the man from the master. 
B. Jonson [Mask of Christmas} 
introduces New Yeares Gift, In 
a blew coat, serving-man like, 
with an orange, etc. 

1845. G. P. R. JAMES, Arrah Neil, 
p. 325. The personage to whom he ad- 
dressed himself, was one of the serving- 
men of that day, known by the general 
term of BLUE-BOTTLES. 

1822. SCOTT, Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 
x. (I., p. 173). I fancy you would love to 
move to court like him, followed by a 
round score of old BLUE-BOTTLES. Ibid, 
ch. xi. My lord, my father . . . has 
BLUE-BOTTLES enough to wait on him. 

BLUE BOY, subs, (common). A 
bubo ; a tumour or abscess with 
inflammation. Specially applied 
to that kind which is a result of 
venereal disease. 

BLUE-BOYS, subs, (popular). The 
police. The expression is gene- 
rally used in the plural. Cf., 
BLUE , sense i , and BEAK, sense i . 

1880. JAS. GREENWOOD, Help My- 
self Society, in Odd People in Odd Places, 
p. 68. The ' Help Yourselves ' are espe- 
cially strong in instrumental music. 
They have a friend in Colonel Eraser, 
the head of the City police, and the ex- 
cellent band of that branch of the force 
is at their service, and Sir E. Henderson 
shows himself to be at heart a ' Help 
Yourself,' by permitting the instrumental 
BLUE BOYS belonging to several metro- 
politan divisions to spend a Saturday 
night there. Besides these, they have 
the Polytechnic orchestral band when it 
is required, and an excellent grand piano 
with a skilled player and accompanyist. 

BLUE BUTTER, subs, (common). 
Mercurial ointment, used for 
the destruction of parasites. 

BLUE-COAT, 57/65. A constable; a 
guardian of public order. This, 
like many of its congeners, has 
been applied to serving-men, 
beadles, tailors, and others 
wearing a uniform of a dark 



Blue Funk. 

blue colour. Like BLUE BLUE- 
BOTTLE, etc., its application to 
a policeman is of some anti- 
quity. Cf., BLUE, sense i, and 
BEAK, sense i. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, p. 
19 (H. Club's Repr., 1874). And being 
so taken, haue beene carried to places of 
correction, there wofully tormented by 
HLEW-COATES, cowardly fellowes, that 
. . . haue so scourged vs, that flesh and 
blood could hardly endure it. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. II., p. 417. ' I thinks 
them Chartists are a weak-minded set 
... a hundred o' them would run away 
from one BLUE-COAT.' 

BLUED or SLEWED, ppl. adj. (com- 
mon). Tipsy; drunk. For 
synonyms, see SCREWED. 

BLUE DAHLIA, subs, (common). A 
colloquialism for something 
rare or seldom seen ; a rara avis. 

BLUE DEVILS, subs, (popular). i. 
Dejection ; lowness of spirits ; 

1786. COWPER, Letters, No. 219, 
vol. II., p. 143 (ed. 1834). I have not 
that which commonly is a symptom of 
such a case belonging to me, I mean 
extraordinary elevation in the absence 
of Mr. BLUE DEVIL. When I am in the 
best health, my tide of animal sprightli- 
ness flows with great equality. 

1790. W. B. RHODES, Bombastes 
Furioso, Sc. i. 

Or, dropping poisons in the cup of joy, 
Do the BLUE DEVILS your repose annoy? 

1871. PLANCHE, King Christmas. 
There are BLUE DEVILS which defy blue 

1880. G. R. SIMS, Three Brass Balls, 

~ieiii. He got discontented and had 


Two French equivalents for 
feeling out of sorts are 
s'emboucaner, and s'cncoliflucheter. 

2. (popular.) Delirium 
tremens. From the appari- 
tions drunkards often suppose 
they see. In both this and the 

foregoing sense BLUE DEVILS is 
contracted into BLUES. 

1818-9. COBBETT, /?</. U.S. ,42. It 

was just the weather to give drunkards 


1831. SCOTT, Dcmonology, i., 18. 
They, by a continued series of intoxica- 
tion, became subject to what is popularly 
called the BLUE DEVILS. 

Hence such derivatives as 
BLUE DEVILISM ; and an ad- 
jectival form BLUE DEVILLY. 

1871. LOCKHART, Fair to See, I., p. 
208. On the lower hills the pine-trees 
loomed through stagnant mists with a 
dejected and BLUE-DEVILLY aspect. 

BLUE FEAR, subs, (popular). Ex- 
treme fright. [From the 'blue' 
or pallid cast of countenance 
which fear is supposed to 
induce. The same as BLUE 
FUNK (q.v.), which is more 

1883. R. L. STEVENSON, The Trea- 
sure of Franchard, in Longman's Mag., 
April, p. 683. Anastasie had saved the 
remainder of his fortune by keeping him 
strictly in the country. The very name 
of Paris put her in a BLUE FEAR. 

BLUE FLAG, subs, (common). A 
BLUE APRON (<?.#.). Worn by 
butchers, publicans, and other 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. He has hoisted the BLUE 
FLAG, he has commenced publican, or 
taken a public house, alluding to the 
blue aprons worn by publicans. 

BLUE FUNK, subs, (popular). Ex- 
treme fright, nervousness, or 
dread. [FUNK is ' to stink 
through fear ' ; Wedgwood con- 
nects it with the Walloon/w^A^r, 
' to smoke.'] 

1856. THOMAS HUGHES, Tom Brown's 
School-days, p. 196. If I was going to be 
flogged next minute, I should be in a 


1861. Macmillan's Magazine, p. 211. 
I was in a real BLUE FUNK. 

Blue Hen's Chickens. 


Bine Murder. 

1861. Saturday Review, Nov. 23, 534. 
We encounter . . . the miserable Dr. 
Blandling in what is called a BLUE 

FUNK. [M.] 

1871. MAXWELL, in Life (1882), xvi., 
382. Certainly xAwpW Stog is the 
Homeric for a BLUE FUNK. 

(American). A slang name for 
the inhabitants of Delaware. 
The nickname arose thus : 
Captain Caldwell, an officer of 
the first Delaware regiment in 
the American War of Indepen- 
dence, was noted for his love of 
cock-fighting. Being personally 
popular, and his regiment 
becoming famous for their 
valour, they were soon known 
as ' game-cocks ' ; and as Cald- 
well maintained that no cock 
was truly game unless its 
mother was a blue hen, his 
regiment, and subsequently 
Delawareans generally, became 
and Delaware as the BLUE HEN 
STATE for the same reason. A 
boaster is also often brought 
to book by the sarcasm, 
' Your mother was a blue hen 
no doubt.' 

BLUE HORSE, subs, (military). 
The Fourth Dragoon Horse, 
from its facings. 

BLUE LIGHTNING, subs. (American). 
One of the grimly facetious 
names with which Texans have 
christened revolvers. At times 
a dispute has literally been a 
word, a flash of BLUE LIGHT- 
NING and certain death. For 
synonyms, see BARKER. 

BLUE MONDAY, subs, (workmen's). 
A Monday spent in dissipa- 
tion and absence from work. 
One often hears the phrase ' to 

feel MONDAYISH.' The Ger- 
man has der blaue Montag. Cf., 

1885. Harper's Magazine, p. 873, 
col. i. The workman getting sober after 
his usual BLUE MONDAY. [M.] 

MOON, phr. (popular). Ex- 
tremely seldom ; an unlimited 
time ; a rarely recurring period. 
An old phrase, first used in the 
sense of something absurd. A 
BLUE MOON, like the Greek 
Kalends, is something which 
does not exist. A variant is 
' when two Sundays come in a 
week. 1 As regards origin no- 
thing is known ; barring the ex- 
tract from Roy and Barlow, 
authorities give no examples 
earlier than 1876 -a curious fact. 

1526. ROY AND BARLOWE, Rede me 
and be not wroth, p. 114 [ed. Arber, 1871], 
Yf they saye the MONE is belewe, 
We must beleve that it is true, 

Admittynge their interpretacion. 
1860. F. W. ROBINSON, Grand- 
mother's Money, I., p. 144. If he talked 
till a BLUE MOON, etc. 

1876. Miss BRADDON, Joshua Hag- 
gard's Daughter, ch. xxiv. Why should 
she stint as to one or two puddings a 
week . . . and a fruit pasty ONCE IN A 

1884. R. E. FRANCILLON, Ropes of 
Sand, ch. xxi. ' I've made bold to take 
the chance of your being at home for 
ONCE IN A BLUE MOON, Mr. Carew,' said 

subs, (common). A term used 
to describe cries of terror or 
alarm ; a great noise ; an un- 
usual racket. Cf., French mor- 

1887. J. S. WINTER, Eng. 111. Mag., 
Dec., p. 179. The dingy person dropped 
his victim and howled what the half- 
dozen officers . . . graphically described 



261 Blue Pigeon Flyer. 

BLUENESS, subs, (common). In- 
decency. Smutty talk is des- 
cribed as BLUE, sense 2 (q.v.). 

1840. CARLYLE, Diderot, Ess., 240. 
The occasional BLUENESS of both [writ- 
ings] shall not altogether affright us. 

horreurs ; les bctises ; les gneulces. 
To talk blue is rendered by 
dccravatcr ses propos. 

BLUE NOSES, subs. (American). 
The natives of Nova Scotia. A 
nickname given them by the 
Yankees in allusion, it is said, to 
a potato of that name which 
Nova Scotians claim to be the 
best in the world. Proctor, 
however, thinks differently, and 
says he would wager that the 
Nova Scotians were called BLUE 
NOSES before the potato which 
they rear was so named, and 
hazards the suggestion that the 
nickname refers to the blueness 
of nose resulting from intense 

1837-40. HALIBURTON (' Sam Slick'). 

Eou know the reason monkeys are no 
? Because they chatter all day 
, as do the niggers, and so do the 
BLUE NOSES of Nova Scotia. 

land journey, vol. I., p. 19. After a run 
[in the steamer] of fourteen days, we 
entered the harbour of Halifax, amid the 
hearty cheers of a large number of BLUE 

verbal phr. (common). To waste 
or squander one's salary. [From 



BLUE PETER, subs, (card-players'). 
The signal or call for trumps 
at whist. [Properly a blue flag 
with white square in centre, 
hoisted as a signal for immediate 

1875. BEETON, Handy Book of Games, 
p. 358. Since the introduction of BLUE 
PETER, the necessity of leading through 
your adversary's hand has become less 
and less. 

BLUE PIGEON, subs, (thieves'). 
Lead used for roofing purposes. 
FLYER. Of doubtful origin, but 
possibly a punning allusion. 
Lead has long been known as 
'bluey,' and pigeons frequently 
find a resting-place on house- 

1887. Judy, 27 April, p. 200. A bur- 
glar whose particular ' lay ' was flying 
the BLUE PIGEON, i.e., stealing lead. 

(Nautical.) The sounding 

BLUE PIGEON FLYER, subs. phr. 
(thieves'). A thief who steals 
lead from the roofs of buildings. 
Hotten thus explains the modus 
operandi. Sometimes a journey- 
man plumber, glazier, or other 
workman, who, when repairing 
houses, strips off the lead, and 
makes away with it. This per- 
formance is, though, by no 
means confined to workmen. 
An empty house is often en- 
tered and the whole of the roof 
in its vicinity stripped, the only 
notice given to the folks below 
being received by them on the 
occasion of a heavy downfall of 
rain. The term FLYER has, 
indeed, of late years been more 
peculiarly applied to the man 
who steals the lead in pursuance 
of his vocation as a thief, than 
to him who takes it because it 
comes in the way of his work. 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 

p. 165. BLUE PIGEON FLYING. Fellows 

who steal lead off houses, or cut pipes 

French equivalents are nn 
limousincur \ un gras-doublier ; un 

Blue Pill. 


Blue Skin. 


verbal phr. (thieves'). To steal 
lead from the roofs of houses. 
See BLUE PIGEON. French 
equivalents are faire la mastar an 
gras-double ; ratisser dugras double. 

1872. J. DORAN, in Notes and Queries, 
4 S., x., 308. Even at the present day, no 
rascal would stoop to strip lead from the 
roof of a house. At least, what honest 
men would call by that name, he would 
prettily designate as 'FLYING THE BLUE 

BLUE PILL, subs, (popular). A 
bullet ; also called BLUE PLUM 
synonyms, see PILL. 

1861. A 7 . 7. Tribune (Let. from 
Missouri), Nov. 10. Between BLUE 
PILLS, halters, and the penitentiary, we 
shall soon work off this element of 
rascaldom and horse-thieves. 

BLUE PLUM, subs, (thieves'). A 
bullet. Cf., BLUE PILL and 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. Surfeited with a BLUE 
PLUMB, wounded with a bullet; a sort- 

ment of George R 's BLUE PLUMBS, a 

volley of ball, shot from soldier's fire- 

wood (1884), p. 95. 
Believe me, there is not a game, my 

brave boys, 

To compare with the game of high toby ; 
No rapture can equal the toby man's joys, 
To blue devils, BLUE PLUMBS give the 

go by. 

BLUE RUIN, subs, (common). Gin, 
generally of inferior quality. 
For synonyms, see DRINKS. 
c. 1817. KEATS, A Portrait. He 

sipped no olden Tom or RUIN BLUE, or 

Nantz or cherry brandy. 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 
to Congress, p. 39. 

A few short words I first must spare, 
To him, the Hero, that sits there, 
Swigging BLUE RUIN, in that chair. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act iii., Sc. 3. Log. Here, Land- 
lord, more BLUE RUIN, my boy! Sal. 
Massa Bob, you find me no such bad 

partner ; many de good vill and de power 
me get from de Jack Tar. 

1847. LYTTON, Lucrdia, pt. II., ch. 
xx. 'The littel un . . . had been a- 
brought up upon spoon-meat, with a 
dash o' BLUE-RUIN to make him slim and 

1859. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. xxiii. The stuff itself, which in the 
western gin-shops goes generally by the 
name of BLUE-RUIN or ' short.' 

BLUES, subs, (popular). i. Des- 
pondency ; hypochondria ; de- 
pression of spirits. [A shortened 
form of BLUE DEVILS (q.v.}.'] 
A French synonym is se faire 
des plumes or paumer ses plumes. 

magundi (1824), P- 9 6 - In a fit of the 
BLUES. [M.] 

Coventry, ch. viii. The moat alone is 
enough to give one the BLUES. 

That Imp, p. 10. ' Miss Aurora,' he said 
suddenly, one evening after dinner, ' it's 
awfully dull at Drive now ; does it never 
strike you so ? ' ' Very often, my dear,' 
answered Miss Aurora promptly. ' It's 
as dull as ' ' Ditch-water,' supplied 
Driver, finding she paused for a word 
which would express dulness enough. 
' I wonder you and Betty don't die of the 

2. The police. See BLUE, 
sense i. 

3. (military.) The Royal 
Horse Guards Blue are popu- 
larly so known from the blue 
facings on the scarlet uniform. 
The corps first obtained the name 
of ' Oxford Blues' in 1690, to dis- 
tinguish it from a Dutch regi- 
ment of Horse Guards dressed 
in blue, commanded by the 
Earl of Portland, the former 
being commanded by the Earl 
of Oxford. Subsequently the 
regiment was, during the cam- 
paign in Flanders [1742-45], 
known as the ' Blue Guards." 

BLUE SKIN, subs. (old). i. For- 
merly a contemptuous term for 

Blue Squadron. 26 3 

Blue Stone. 

a Presbyterian. Butler, in 

Hndibras [I., p. 26], says : 

' 'twas Presbyterian true bine, 
For he was of the stubborn crew 
Of errant saints, whom all men grant 
To be the true Church Militant.' 

Blue is still the Presbyterian 
colour, and is used as an adjective 
by them in describing books and 

2. (West Indian.) A half- 
breed the child of a black 
woman by a white man. 

BLUE SQUADRON, subs, (colonial). 
One of mixed blood ; properly 
one with a Hindoo strain. 
Eurasians belong to the BLUE 


BLUE STOCKING, subs. A literary 
lady : applied usually with the 
imputation cf pedantry. The 
generally received explanation 
is that the term is derived from 
the name given to certain meet- 
ings held by ladies in the days 
of Dr. Johnson for conversation 
with distinguished literary men. 
One of the most eminent of 
these literati was a Mr. Ben- 
jamin Stillingfleet, who always 
whose conversation at these 
meetings was so much prized, 
that his absence at any time 
was felt to be a great 
loss, so that the remark 
became common, ' We can 
do nothing without the BLUE 
STOCKINGS,' hence these meet- 
ings were sportively called 
BLUE-STOCKING clubs, and the 
ladies who attended them BLUE- 
STOCKINGS. It is stated that 
the name specially arose in 
this way. A foreigner of rank 
refused to accompany a friend 
to one of these parties on the 

plea of being in his travelling 
costume, to which there was 
the reply, ' Oh ! we never mind 
dress on these occasions ; you 
may come in has bleus or BLUE 
STOCKINGS,' with allusion to 
Stillingfleet 's stockings, when 
the foreigner, fancying that 
bas bleus were part of the neces- 
sary costume, called the meet- 
ing ever after the Bas-bleu 
Society. In modern slang the 
term BLUE-STOCKING is abbre- 
viated into BLUE. Derivatives 


b. 1738, rf. 1819. WOLCOT (' P. Pindar ' ), 
Benevolent Epistle, in wks. (Dublin, 1795), 
vol. II., p. 125. 

I see the band of BLUE-STOCKINGS arise, 
Historic, critic, and poetic dames ! 

1780. MAD. D'ARBLAY, Diary, i., 326. 
Who would not be a BLUE-STOCKINGER 
at this rate ? 

1784. WALPOLE, Letters, iv., 381. 
[Walpole, writing to Hannah More, 
playfully makes it a verb = to put on 
BLUE STOCKINGS.] When will you BLUE- 
STOCKING yourself, and come amongst us ? 

1877. Macmillan's Mag., May, p. 50. 
On the airs and graces of the gushing 
BLUE STOCKINGS who were in vogue in 
that day .... she had no mercy. 

1877. Miss MARTINEAU, Autob., 
vol. I., p. 100. Young ladies (at least in 
provincial towns) were expected to sit 
down in the parlour to sew, during 
which reading aloud was permitted, or 
to practice their music ; but so as to fit to 
receive callers, without any signs of 
BLUE-STOCKINGISM which could be re- 
ported abroad. 

BLUE STONE, subs, (common). 
Gin or whiskey of so bad a 
quality that it can only be com- 
pared to vitriol, of which BLUE- 
STONE is also a nickname in the 
north of England and Scotland. 
For all synonyms, see DRINKS. 

1880. Blackwopd's Mag., June, p. 786. 
The bar was still thronged, and the 
effects of the mixture of spirits of wine, 
BLUESTONE, and tobacco-juice, were to 
be seen on a miserable wretch who lay 
stretched in the courtyard. 

Blue Tape 



188-2. W. G. BLACK, in Notes and 
Queries, 6 S., v., p. 348. A witness was 
asked in the Northern Police Court, 
Glasgow, a few weeks ago, a question 
relative to the quality of certain whiskey 
said to have been supplied to him. 'It 
wasn't whiskey,' he said, ' it was nothing 
but BLUESTONE.' 'Butwhat?' inquired 
the magistrate. ' BLUESTONE,' your hon- 
our,' was the answer ' poison.' I heard 
the question and answer, and there can 
be no doubt that the word was used as a 
familiar one. 

BLUE TAPE, sttbs. (old). One of the 
many cant terms for gin. For 
synonyms, see DRINKS. 

BLUE WHISTLER, subs. (American). 
A bullet. For synonyms, 
see. PILL. 

1888. New York Herald, Nov. 4. It 
was Mr. Barbour's rifle shot which had 
hit him in the head and caused him to 
stagger. The pellet of lead passed deep 
into the brain. The second shot was 
from the Atlanta drummer, and his thir- 
teen BLUE WHISTLERS tore the brute's 
liver into shreds and made a great hole 
in his side. Ibid. After a few moments of 
reflection, being nearest to the quarry, I 
lifted my double-barrelled shotgun and let 
drive a volley of BLUE WHISTLERS 
straight afbruin's yawning jaws. 

BLUEY, subs, (thieves'). i. Lead. 
See also BLUE PIGEON. [Sup- 
posed to be an allusion to the 

sin ; du noir (noir black) ; du 
saucisson. ' To dispose of BLUEY 
at the fence,' i.e., the receiver 
of stolen goods -porter du gnts- 
double au moulin. 

2. (Australian.) Abushman's 
bundle, the outside wrapper 
of which is generally a blue 
blanket hence the name. This 
is also called his SWAG (q.v.) ; 
likewise a DRUM (q.v.}. 

BLUEY-HUNTER, subs, (thieves'). 
A thief who steals lead, as des- 
cribed under BLUE PIGEON 

FLYER (q.V.), Of which BLUEY- 
HUNTER is a synonym. Cf., 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, Lou. Lab. and 
Lon. Poor, IV., 26. BLUEY-HUNTERS, or 
those who purloin lead from the tops of 

1856. H. MAYHEW, Gt. World of 
London, p. 46. BLUEY-HUNTERS, who 
take lead from the tops of houses. 

BLUFF, subs, (vagrants' and com- 
mon). An excuse; a pretence ; 
that which is intended to hood- 
wink or ' to blind.' Probably 
a transferred usage of the 
American sense. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 231. [List of 
patterer's words.] BLUFF, an excuse. 

1879. BRET HARTE, Gabriel Conroy, 
ch. xxxix. There is a strong suspicion 
among men whose heads are level that 
this Minstrel Variety Performance is a 
BLUFF of the' Messenger' to keep from the 
public the real motives of the murder. 

1884. Boston (U.S.) Journal, Sept. 25. 
The otter was only a BLUFF. 

Verb (common). To turn 
aside ; to stop ; to hoodwink ; 
to blind as to one's real inten- 
tion. Properly, to brag; to 
conceal one's weakness ; from 
the American game of poker. 
See subs. 

1871. DE VERE, Americanisms, p. 
327. Like its near cousin, suggestively 
called BLUFF, poker is a mere hazard 
game, with which, however, is combined 
great skill in bragging to a purpose. One 
man offers a bet on his hand ; another 
doubles the bet and ' goes one better ' ; 
then the first tries TO BLUFF him off by a 
still higher bet, and thus the stake rises 
rapidly to often enormous sums. 

1883. Echo, April 20, p. 3, col. 5. 
Subsequently a prominent bookmaker 
attempted to BLUFF Captain Machell by 
laying him 2,000 to 1,000 on Goggles 
against Sweetbread a merry little bit of 
financial diplomacy, which was promptly 
followed by Goggles being struck out. 

1885. BRET HARTE, Ship of '49, ch. 
v. ' Far from BLUFFING, Sleight, I am 
throwing my cards on the table. Con- 
sider that I've passed out. Let some 
other man take my hand.' 


26 5 Blush Like a Dog. 

It may be remarked that Ray 
[1674-91] gives BLUFF as to 
blindfold, and Bailey [1721] as 
to hoodwink. The German has 
bluff en ; the Dutch bloffen, ' to 
bark at,' and vcrlii/en, 'to put 
out of countenance.' 

So also BLUFFING in a simi- 
lar sense. 

1889. Answers, July 20, p. 121, col. 
2. The youths evidently disagreed as 
to the nature of my business: one, as 
far as I could gather, assumed that I was 
a ' nark,' and that I was BLUFFING (mak- 
ing an excuse), and ' flamming ' (lying). 

BLUFFER, subs. (old). An inn- 
keeper. Grose. Bailey [1721] 
also gives the term with the 
same meaning, and American 
thieves still retain the word in 
a similar sense. 

2. (nautical.) A bo'sun. 

BLUNDERBUSS, subs. (old). A 
stupid blundering fellow. 

BLUNT, subs, (popular). Money, 
especially ready money. For a 
long list of synonyms, see 
ACTUAL. [There are several 
suggested derivations; (i) that 
it is from the French blond, 
sandy or golden colour, and 
that a parallel may be found 
in BROWN or BROWNS, the 
slang for halfpence. Far- 
fetched as this etymology seems, 
say Hotten, it may be correct, 
as it is borne out by the ana- 
logy of similar expressions. Cf., 
BLANQUILLO, a word used in 
Morocco and Southern Spain 
for a small Moorish coin. The 
' asper ' (atnrpov) of Constan- 
tinople is called by the Turks 
akcheh, i.e., 'little white'; (2) 
that it received its name in 
allusion to the BLUNT rim of 

coins. A third is that it received 
the name from Mr. John BLUNT, 
the chairman of South Sea 

1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. u. [List of cant words.] BLUNT, 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 3. (Holding out his 
right hand for the money, and keeping the 
porter away with the other.) Bob. That's 
your sort; give us hold on it. (Takes 
Mace's empty hand.) Vy, vhere ? Mace. 
(Keeping the porter back.) Vy, here. Bob. 
Oh, you are afeard of the BLUNT, are 
you ? Mace. No, it ain't that; only I'm 
no schollard so I alvays takes the 
BLUNT vith von hand, and gives the pot 
vith t'other. It saves chalk and pre- 
wents mistakes, you know. 

1837. DICKENS, Oliver Twist, ch. 
xxxix. ' It's all very well,' said Mr. 
Sikes ; 'but I must have some BLUNT 
from you to-night.' ' I haven't a piece of 
coin about me,' replied the Jew. 

1878. Notes and Queries, 5 S., x., p. 
315. BLUNT ... is also a well-known 
slang term for money. 

1882. Punch, vol. LXXXIL, p. 147, 
col. 2. 'The New Almacks.' ' It appears, 
my dear Jerry,' said the Corinthian, 
' that anybody can enter here who 
chooses to "sport his BLUNT"' that is, 
to pay. 

BLUNTED, ppl. adj. (old). Pos- 
sessed of money. 

18(?). English Spy, p. 255. Most 
noble cracks, and worthy cousin 
trumps, permit me to introduce a 
brother of the tpgati, fresh as a new- 
blown rose, and innocent as the lilies of 
St. Clements. Be unto him ever ready 
to promote his wishes, whether for spree 
or sport, in term and out of term, 
against the Inquisition and their bull- 
dogs the town-raff and the bargees 
well-BLUNTED or stiver-cramped against 
dun or don nob or big wig so may 
you never want a bumper of bishop. 


verbal phr. (old). Not to blush 
at all. 

1579. GOSSON, Apologic of School 
of Abuse, p. 75. If it bee my fortune too 
meete with the learned woorkes of this 
London Sabinus, that can not playe the 


266 Boarding House. 

part without a prompter, nor utter a wise 
worde without a piper, you shall see we 
will make him to BLUSH LIKE A BLACKE 
DOGGE, when he is graveled. 

cd. 1634. WITHAL, Dictionary, p. 
557. Faciem pcrfricuit. Hee BLUSHETH 
LIKE A BLACKE DOGGE, hee hath a brazen 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. i.). 

Lord Sp. (to the Maid). Mrs. Betty, 
how does your body politick ? 

Col. Fye, my lord, you'll make Mrs. 
Betty blush. 

Lady Sm. Blush ! Ay, BLUSH LIKE 


1828. C. K. SHARPE to a lady, in 
C. K. S.'s Correspondence (1888), II., 421. 
I send you a pair of blue stockings of my 
own knitting. I BLUSH LIKE A BLUE DOG 
about the workmanship, for I fear they 
are too short. 

B.N.C., abbreviation (University). 
ForBrasenose; initials of Brasen 
Nose College. In spite of the 
nose over the gate, the proba- 
bility is that the real name was 
Brasinium. It is still famous 
for its beer. 

1885. Daily News, March 13, p. 5, 
col. r. As when Corpus bumped B.N.C. 
years ago, and went head of the river, 
whereon a spirit of wrath entered into 
the B.N.C. men, and next night they 
bumped Corpus back again. 

BOARD, verb (military). i. To 

2. (nautical.) To accost; ask 
of; make a demand; i.e., to 
come to close quarters. The 
allusion is to boarding a ship 
for a hand-to-hand conflict ; 
originally in a forcible or hostile 
sense, but now used in a modi- 
fied form for to ' make up to,' 
to 'make advances to.' The 
figure of speech is a very old 
one, as will be seen from the 
following examples. 

1547. EARL SURREY, &neid, IV., 
395. At length her self BORDETH Aeneas 
thus. [M.] 

1596. SHAKSPEARE, Hamlet, ii., 2. 
[Enter HAMLET, reading.] Queen. But 
look, where sadly the poor wretch comes 
reading. Pol. . . . I'll BOARD him pre- 
sently : O, give me leave. 

1672-1726. VANBRUGH, False Friend, 
I., i., 97. What do you expectfrom BOARD- 
ING a woman . . . already heart and 
soul engaged to another. 

1867. SMYTH, Sailors' Word Book. 
BOARD HIM, a colloquialism for I'll ask, 
demand, or accost him. 


(nautical). To take one un- 
awares, or by surprise. In the 
midst of a naval fight boarding 
operations were often success- 
fully cariied out under cover of 
the smoke from a broadside. 

ON THE BOARD, phr. (tailors'). 
Enjoying all the privileges 
and emoluments of a competent 
workman. When an apprentice 
becomes a regular journeyman 
he goes ' ON THE BOARD.' 
Tailors usually work squatting 
on a low raised platform hence 
possibly the expression. 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 146. During the term of his 
imprisonment he became an excellent 
working tailor, and was ON THE BOARD, 
as it is termed, among those who are 
efficient hands. 

BOARD, phr. (Cambridge Univ.). 
To remain a member of a 

(old). A nickname given by 
thieves in London to Newgate, 
but it is equally applicable to 
any gaol. New York thieves 
apply it to the Tombs. [From 
that sense of Boarding School = 
an establishment where persons 
are boarded and taught, con- 
victs being likened to scholars.] 
French thieves call such an 
institution un college. For 
synonyms, see CAGE. 

Boar dm an. 



1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BOARDING SCHOOL. 
Bridewell, Newgate, or any other prison 
or house of correction. 

BOARDMAN, subs, (vagrants'). A 
standing patterer ; explained by 
quotation. Sometimes called 
a ' sandwich man.' 

1851. H. MAYHEW, London Labour 
and London Poor, I., p. 251. I have no 
doubt that there are always at least 
twenty standing patterers sometimes 
they are called BOARDMEN at work in 
London. Ibid, p. 248. They endeavour 
to attract attention to their papers, or, 
more commonly, pamphlets ... by 
means of a board with coloured pictures 
upon it, illustrative of the contents of 
what they sell . . . (This) is what is 
usually denominated in street technology 
' board work.' 

BOARD OF GREEN CLOTH, subs, (fami- 
liar). A card or billiard table. 
[From BOARD, a table, + GREEN 
CLOTH, from the colour of the 
cloth with which the table is 
1771. P. PARSONS, New Newmarket, 


the billiard table. 

1850. SMEDLEY, Frank Fairlcgh, 
p. 23. ' I am going down to F -' ' As 
usual, the BOARD OF GREEN CLOTH, eh ? 
you will go there once too often, if you 
don't mind, old fellow.' 'That's my look 
out,' replied Cumberland. 

1853. WHYTE MELVILLE, Digby 
Grand, ch. vi. Often have I seen him 
rise from the BOARD OF GREEN CLOTH, 
and turning his chair thrice, from right 
to left, reseat himself at the play-table, 
confident that success would follow the 
mystical manoeuvre. 

1886. Miss BRADDON, Mohawks, ch. 
viii. The soft seductive sound of the 
dice sliding gently on to the BOARD OF 


BOAT, subs. (old). Formerly 
applied to the hulks ; latterly 
to any prison. [The deriva- 
tion is obvious, old dismasted 
ships having long served as 
places of detention for convicts.] 
For synonyms, see CAGE. 

1856. H. MAYHEW, Great World of 
London, p. 82, note. [List of thieves' 
names of prisons.] The Hulks, or any 
Public Works THE BOAT. 

Verb (old). I. Originally to 
transport ; the term is now 
applied to penal servitude. To 
' get the BOAT,' or to ' be 
BOATED,' is to be sentenced to 
a long term of imprisonment, 
equivalent to transportation 
under the old system. Cf., 
BOAT, subs., and for synonyms, 
see COP. 

2. (American thieves'.) To 
join as partner ; evidently a 
corruption of ' to be in the 
same boat," i.e., to be in the 
same position or circumstances. 

fhr. (American). To be self- 
reliant. A variant is ' to PADDLE 

BOB, subs, (popular). i. A shil- 
ling. [The derivation is obscure, 
but there are several suggested 
explanations. Murray points 
out that there was an old 
French coin called a bobe, but 
he thinks its survival in English 
slang is very unlikely. Others 
think it a corruption of 
' baubee ' or 'bawbee,' a de- 
based Scotch coin, issued in the 
reign of James VI. of Scotland, 
equal in value to a halfpenny. 
A more likely origin than either 
of the foregoing is from BOB, a 
grub used as bait for fish, the 
allusion being to money as a 
bribe.] The old cant had BOB- 
STICK (q.v.) as a synonym, and a 
spurious plural is sometimes 
formed of BOB, thus BOBBER 
TWO BOBBER = a two-shilling 
piece. Cf., BLOW for syno- 

1812. J. H. VAUX, Flash Dictionary. 
BOB or BOBSTICK, a shilling. 




1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act iii., Sc. 3. Tom. Now then, 
what's to pay, landlord ? Mace. All out, 
vill be fourteen BOB and a kick, your 
honour. Tom. Well, there's a flimsy for 
you ; serve the change out in max to the 
covies. (Gives money.) 

1837. BARHAM, /. L. (Misadventures 
at Margate). I changed a shilling 
(which in town the people call a BOB). 

1882. Punch, vol. LXXXII., p. 74, 
col. i. ACCOMMODATION. Swell. ' Haw 
no small change about me.' Minstrel. 
' Oh, don't mention 't sar. A BOB will do 
sar, and if you'll call at my club to- 
morrow, sar, the hall portar will give you 
sixpence back, sar. My kyard, sar, 
etc. ! ! ' 

2. (old.) -- A shoplifter's 
assistant ; one who receives and 
carries off stolen goods. In 
French he is called un nonne or 
un nonne. 

3. (old.) Gin. See quota- 
tions in BOBSTICK, and DRINKS 
for synonyms. 

1749. ' Honours of the Fleet,' quoted 
in Ashton's The Fleet, p. 286. H' had 
strain'd his credit for a Dram of BOB. 

4. (military.) An infantry 
soldier ; generally LIGHT-BOB, 
i.e. , a soldier of the light infantry. 
[This is probably an allusion to 
their being enlisted with the 
Queen's shilling or BOB.] For 
synonyms, see MUDCRUSHER. 

1844. W. H. MAXWELL, Sports and 
Adventures in Scotland, xxxv., 282. Me, 
that never . . . listened to a LIGHT-BOB. 

1848. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, ch. 
xxiv. Mr. Stubble, as may be supposed 
from his size andslenderness, was of the 


5. (Winchester College ) A 
large white jug containing 
about a gallon in measure, and 
used for beer. 

1870. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 85. Each end and 
Praefect's mess had their beer served up 
in a large white jug, or ' BOB.' The ves- 
sel used for the same purpose in Com- 
moners' was called a ' Joram.' 

1888. T. A. TROLLOPE, What I Re- 
member. Only those 'Juniors' attended 
whose office it was to bring away the 
portions of bread and cheese and BOBS 
of beer for consumption in the afternoon. 

Adj. (old). Lively; nice; in 
good spirits. 

1721. GIBBER, Refusal, I., sp. 109. 
Yesterday at Marybone, they had me all 
BOB as a Robin. [M.] 

1864. Miss YONGE, Trial, I., 113. 
'That's a nice girl" . . . 'BOBBER than 
bobtail.' [M.J 

Verb (old). To cheat; to 
trick ; to disappoint. Also to 

1605. Try all Chev., I., in Bullcn's 
O. Plays, iii., 273. I had rather dye in a 
ditch than be BOBD of my fayre Thomasin. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOB (v.), to jog, touch, or give notice by 
some such like sign ; also a cant word 
for to trick or cheat. 

Intj. (familiar). Stop! That's 
enough ! 

1889. Modern Society, June 6. ' Say 
when,' said Bonko, taking up a flagon of 
whiskey and commencing to pour out 
the spirit into my glass. ' BOB ! ' replied I. 

DRY BOB, phr. (old). Fruit- 
less coition. 

DRY BOB, WET BOB, subs. 
(Eton College). The first- 
named is one who devotes him- 
self to cricket or football and 
other land sports ; the latter 
one who goes in for rowing 
and aquatics generally. The 
origin of the term is doubt- 
ful. See DRY BOB and WET 

1844. DISRAELI, Coningsby, p. 42. 
' It is settled, the match to-morrow shall 
be between Aquatics and DRY BOBS,' said 
a senior boy. 

1874. Saturday Review, Aug., p. 212. 
The friendly rivalry between England 
and America led some while ago to a 
contest between the WET BOBS, to use an 
Eton phrase, of either country, and it 
was only fair that the DRY BOBS should 
show what they could do. 




ALL is BOB, phr. (old). All's 
safe ; ' serene" ; ' gay.' For 
synonyms, see O K. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. [ALL'S BOB is defined 
as foregoing.] 

Sheppard, p. 12. A moment afterwards, 
the street was illumined by a blaze of 
torchlight, and a tumultuous uproar 
announced the arrival of the first de- 
tachment of Minters. Mr. Wood 
rushed instantly to meet them. ' Hurrah ! ' 
shouted he, waving his hat triumphantly 
over his head. 'Saved!' 'Ay, ay, it's 
ALL BOB, my covey ! You're safe enough, 
that's certain!' responded the Minters. 

BEAR A BOB ! phr. (common). 
Be brisk ! look sharp ! 

BOB A NOD, phr. (common.) 
A shilling a head. [From 
BOB, slang for shilling, + NOD, 
the head.] 

To GIVE THE BOB, phr. (old) . 
To give the door. An old 
term used by Massinger ' It 
can be no other but TO GIVE 
me THE BOB.' 

S'HELP ME BOB, phr. (low). 

A street oath, equivalent to ' So 
help me God ' ; a corrupted 
form of the legal oath. ' So 
help ' is pronounced swelp. There 
are several variants, such as 


1837. BARHAM, I. L. (Dead Drummer], 
For his jaw-work would never, I'm sure, 

Have come for to go for to do sich a job ! 

1880. JAS. PAYN, Confid. Agent, ch. 
xix. ' Not another word will I say, 
S'HELP ME BOB.' And John rolled over 
in his bed like an indignant porpoise. 

(common). To go away. Cf., 
BOBBING AROUND, ' to go ex- 
peditiously from place to place.' 

BOBBER, subs, (common). i. A 
fellow - workman ; mate ; or 
' CHUM ' (q.v. for synonyms). 

1860. W. WHITE, Round Wrekin, 34. 
BOBBER being the equivalent of chum. 


1871. Daily News, May 19. As he 
sells these, the buyers or their BOBBERS 
carry them off. [M.] 

2. A spurious plural of BOB 
(q.v.) a shilling. 

BOBBERY.SH&S. (popular). A noise; 
squabble ; disturbance ; or ' rac- 
ket.' [An Anglo-Indian repre- 
sentation of Bap re ! O father ! 
a common exclamation of sur- 
prise or grief. Yule. Murray 
thinks the evidence for its origi- 
nation in India is decisive, other 
plausible derivations to the con- 
trary notwithstanding.] The 
first of the following quotations 
shows an earlier use by thirteen 
years than that given by the 
New English Dictionary. 

1803. KENNEY, Raising the Wind, 
II., i. If I don't go back, and kick up 


1833. MARRYAT, Peter Simple, ch. ii. 
I'll bet a wager there'll be a BOBBERY in 
the pigsty before long, for they are ripe 
for mischief. 

1836. MARRYAT, Midshipman Easy, 
ch. xix. ' I can do nothing but there's a 
BOBBERY at the bottom of it.' 

1879. Punch, 17 May, 227. I might 
in quiet hold my own, And not go kicking 

Up a BOBBERY. [M.] 

BOBBISH, adj. (common). Fre- 
quently PRETTY BOBBISH, i.e., 
hearty ; in good health and 
spirits; clever; spruce. 'Cf., 
BOB, adj. So also BOBBISHLY, 

1819. SCOTT, in Lockhart, xliv 
(1842), 394. I trust you will find me 
pretty BOBBISH. [M.] 

1857. DICKENS, The Detective Police, 
in Reprinted Pieces, p. 247. ' Halloa, 
Butcher ! is that you ? ' ' Yes, it's me, 
How do you find yourself? ' ' BOBBISH,' 
he says. 

1860. DICKENS, Great Expectations, 
ch. iv., p. 13. Every Christmas Day, he 
retorted, as he now retorted, ' It's no 



Bob Tail. 

more than your merits. And now are 
you all BOBBISH, and how's sixpennorth 
of halfpence ?' meaning me. 

1881. W. D. HOWELLS, Dr. Breen's 
Practice, ch. vii. ' I didn't know that I 
mustn't look downcast. I didn't suppose 
it would be very polite, under the cir- 
cumstances, to go round looking as 
BOBBISH as I feel.' 

BOBBLES, subs, (common). The 
testicles a corrupted form of 
BAWBELLS. For synonyms, see 

BOBBY, subs, (popular). A police- 
man. This nickname, though 
possibly not derived from, was 
certainly popularised by the fact 
that the Metropolitan Police 
Act of 1828 was mainly the 
work of Mr., afterwards Sir 
Robert Peel. Long before that 
statesman remodelled the police, 
however, the term ' BOBBY the 
beadle ' was in use to signify a 
guardian of a public square or 
other open space. There seems, 
however, a lack of evidence, 
and examples of its literary use 
prior to 1851 have not been dis- 
covered. For synonyms, see 
BEAK, sense i. 

At the Universities the Proc- 
tors are or used to be called 

1851. H. MAYHEW, London Labour 
and London Poor, I., p. 16. It is often 
said in admiration of such a man that 
he could muzzle half a dozen BOBBIES 
before breakfast ! 

1880. Punch, No. 2038. Going round 
a corner and crying, BOBBY ! BOBBY ! 
BOBBY ! when he saw a Proctor. 

1884. Punch, July 26, p. 41, col. 2. 
But oh, for the grip of the 'BOBBY'S' 

Upon his neck that day. 

1889. The Mirror, Aug. 26, p. 7, col. 2. 
On the back seat was perched the per- 
fidious Amelia Ann, the lust of conquest 
clearly written upon her sinful and per- 
spiring face. She had put her cat in the 
birdcage, its former occupant being, I 

presume, inside the cat. ... In this 
order the ghastly procession moved off, 
to the evident amusement of a ' BOBBY," 
whose beat seems to include nothing 
beyond the area-railings of the opposite 

BOBBY-TWISTER, subs, (thieves'). 
A burglar or thief, who, when 
resisting pursuit or capture, 
uses violence. Of obvious deri- 
vation. See THIEVES. 

BOB-CULL, subs, (thieves'). A good 
fellow ; a pleasant companion. 
[From BOB (adj.)=mce, lively + 
CULL, old cant for a man.] 

BOB MY PAL, subs, (rhyming slang). 
A girl, i.e., ' gal.' 

BOBSTICK, subs. (old). A shilling's 
worth. Cf., BOB, sense i. 

1789. GEO. PARKER, Life's Painter, 
p. 162. BOBSTICK of rum slim. That is, 
a shilling's worth of punch. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 5. Tom. Allans done- 
Waiter, bring some wine. Log. Hang 
cards! bring me a BOBSTICK of 
rum slim, or a glass of Barsac stay, on 
second thoughts, I'll have a sniker of 
green tea punch. 

BOB TAIL, subs. (old). i. A lewd 
woman. For synonyms, see 

2. An impotent man or 

mob of all sorts of low people ; 
the common herd ; the rabble. 

1659-60. PEPYS, Diary, Mar. 6. The 
dining-room . . . was full of TAG, RAG, 
AND BOBTAIL, dancing, singing, and 
drinking. [M.] 

1785. WOLCOT ('P. Pindar'), Ode 
to R. A.'s, ii., wks. (1812) I., 80. TAG- 
RAGS AND BOBTAILS of the sacred Brush. 


1820. BYRON, Blues, ii., 23. The 

RAG, TAG, AND BOBTAIL of those they 

call ' Blues.' [M.] 




1841. DICKENS, Barnaby Rndgc, 
xxxv. 'We don't take in no TAGRAG 
AND BOBTAIL at our house.' [M.] 

Boco, subs, (originally pugilistic, 
now common). i. The nose. 
[Probably from BEAK, sense 3.] 
The form employed by American 
thieves is BOKE. For synonyms, 
see CONK. 

1880. BKSANT AND RICE, Seamy 
Side, ch. i. ' A common keeper, who 
was in the lot, got a heavy oner on the 
BOKO for his share.' ' Boys,' said Mr. 
Haniblin, 'who use slang come to the 
gallows. BOKO is ' 'Conk or BOKO,' 
said Nicolas the vulgar. ' It's all the 

1889. Ally Sloper's Half Holiday, 
July 6. Dear Old Blistered BOKO, I 
trust you will allow me to thank you and 
your Graphologist for my character I 
received this morning. My friends say 
it is correct. I am saving up my pocket- 
money for a bottle of nose bloomer. I 
can see your BOKO blushing at the 

1889. Sporting Times, July 6. The 
Gnat, with the Cunning peculiar to the 
Wicked flew up the Lion's BOKO and 
, Stung hin so Badly, that the Great Beast 
'rent himself to Death with his Own 

2. Nonsense; 'bosh.' [Of 
unknown derivation, and it seems 
to have no connection with 
sense i.] 

1886. Punch, 25 Sept., p. 145. Lop- 
sided Free Trade is all BOKO. 

BODIER, subs, (pugilistic). A blow 
on the side of the body. See 

BODKIN, subs, (sporting). Amongst 
sporting men, a person who 
takes his turn between the 
sheets on alternate nights, when 
an hotel has twice as many 
visitors as it can comfortably 
lodge ; as, for instance, during 
a race-week. A transferred 
sense from 


(common). To take a placeand 
be wedged in between other 
persons when the accommo- 
dation is intended for two only. 

1638. FORD, Fancies, IV., i. (1811), 
186. Where but two lie in a bed, you 
must be BODKIN, bitch-baby must ye ? 


1798. Loves of the Triangles, 182. 
While the pressed BODKIN, punched and 
squeezed to death, Sweats in the mid- 
most place. 

1848. THACKERAY, Book of Snobs, 
ch. xxxiv. The writer supposes Aubrey 
to come to town in post-chaise and pair, 
sitting BODKIN probably between his wife 
and sister. 

BODY-COVER, subs. (American 
thieves'). A coat. One is 
almost tempted to ask whether 
this is the only garment known 
to the criminal classes. Cf., 

CALF, phr. (old). A parson. So 
quoted in the Lexicon Balatroni- 
cum [1811]. For synonyms, see 

BODY-SLANGS, subs, (thieves'). 
Fetters. [From SLANG (q.v.), a 
chain.] S^quot. and for syno- 
nyms, DARBIES. 

1819. VAUX, Memoirs. BODY-SLANGS 
are of two kinds. Each consists of a 
heavy iron ring to go round the waist, to 
which are attached in one case two bars 
or heavy chains, connected with the 
fetters round the ankles, in the other 
case a link at each side attached to a 
handcuff. Into these the wrists are 
locked, and thus held down to the 
prisoner's sides. The latter are now 
only to be found in museums. 

BODY-SNATCHER, subs. (old). I. A 
bailiff or runner. [The SNATCH 
was the trick by which the 
bailiff captured the delinquent.] 
These terms are now obsolete, 
so far as the pursuits mentioned 



Bog Latin. 

are concerned. They are men- 
tioned by Parker [1781] in his 
View of Society, II., 70. 

2. A policeman. For syno- 
nyms, see BEAK, sense i. 

1858. A. MAYHEW, Paved with Gold, 
bk. III., ch. i., p. 254. ' Now, if you or 
I was to do such a dodge as that, we 
should have the BODY-SNATCHERS (police 
officers) after us.' 

3. (American.) A generally 
objectionable individual. This 
variety is especially known as 


4. (popular.) A violator of 
graves ; a ' resurrectionist.' 

1833. SIR F. HEAD, Bubbles from the 
Bntnnen, 126. Any one of our BODY- 
SNATCHERS would have rubbed his rough 
hands. [M.] 

1868. Reader, Aug. 22. At that time 
(1827-28) . . . BODY-SNATCHING became 
a trade. 

5. (common.) An under- 
taker. For synonyms, see COLD 

BOG, subs, (prison). i. The works 
at Dartmoor, on which convicts 
labour ; during recent years a 
large quantity of land has been 
reclaimed in this way. 

1877. Five Years' Penal Servitude, 
ch. iii., p. 158. These were the men 
destined for outdoor work, the BOGS, as 
the places where the different outside 
gangs worked were called [at Dartmoor]. 

2. (low.) An abbreviated 
form of BOG-HOUSE (q.v.), or 


Verb. To ease oneself; to 
evacuate. See BURY A QUAKER. 


gle,' + BOTCH, ' to bungle ' or 
' to construct clumsily.'] BOG- 
GLE by itself is more frequently 

1834. Miss EDGEWORTH, Helen, ch. 
xxvi. A fine BOGGLE-DE-BOTCH I have 
made of it. ... I am aware it is not a 
canonical word, classical, I mean ; nor 
in nor out of any dictionary perhaps 
but when people are warm, they cannot 
stand picking terms. 

BOG-HOUSE, BOG-SHOP, subs. (low). 
A privy ; a necessary house. 
The term, as will be seen, is an 
old one. [The derivation is 
probably from BOG, a morass of 
decaying matter ; a soft, spongy 
place.] For synonyms, see BURY 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. 
I., ch. xii., p. 123 (1874). Fearing I should 
catch cold, they out of pity covered me 
warm in a BOGG-HOUSE. 

1703. WARD, London Spy, pt. III., 
p. 47. Its walls being adorn'd with as 
many unsavoury Finger-dabs as an Inns 
of Court BOG-HOUSE. 

1754. B. MARTIN, Eng. Diet., 2 ed. 
BOG-HOUSE, a privy, or necessary-house. 

BOGLANDER, subs. (old). An Irish- 
man. [From the boggy and 
marshy character of a consider- 
able portion of the Emerald 
Isle.] Cf., BOG-TROTTER. 

1698-1700. WARD, London Spy, pt. 
XVI., p. 383. [BOGLANDER is the name 
applied to an Irishman in this work.] 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. BOG LANDER, an Irishman. 
Ireland being famous for its large bogs 
which furnish the chief fuel in many 
parts of that kingdom. 

1811. Lexicon Balatronicum. [The 
same definition given as in Grose.] 

BOTCH, subs, (colloquial). A 
bungle; ' mess' ; ' hash.' [From 
BOGGLE, 'to fumble,' 'to bun- 

BOG LATIN, subs. (Irish). A spu- 
rious mode of speech simulating 
the Latin in construction. See 




BOG-ORANGES, subs, (popular). 
Potatoes. The phrase is an 
allusion to the vegetable in ques- 
tion forming a very substantial 
food staple of the Irish peasantry, 
with whom, in the popular mind, 
potatoes are largely associated. 
Hence probably the nickname. 
Cf., MURPHY. [ORANGES, from 
the shape, + BOG = Irish, Bog- 
land being a humorous nick- 
name for the Emerald Isle.] 

BOG-TROTTER, subs, (familiar). A 
satirical name for an Irishman. 
Camden, however [c. 1605] , 
speaking of the ' debateable 
land ' on the borders of England 
and Scotland, says, ' both these 
dales breed notable BOG-TROT- 
TERS.' From this the original 
sense would appear to have 
been one accustomed to walk 
across bogs. As a nickname for 
an Irishman, it dates at least 
from 1671. 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. I., 
ch. xxvii. (Repr. 1874), p. 232. [Irishmen 
are spoken of as BOG-TROTTERS in this 

1859. SALA, Gaslight and Daylight, 
ch. xxix. Gaunt reapers and BOG- 
TROTTERS in those traditional blue body- 
coats, leathern smalls, and bell-crowned 
hats, that seem to be manufactured 
nowhere save in Ireland. 

BOG-TROTTING, adj. (familiar). 
A contemptuous epithet ap- 
plied to one living among bogs ; 
e.g., a BOG-TROTTING Irishman. 

1758-65. GOLDSMITH, On Quack 
Doctors (Essays and Poems, 1836), p. 127. 
Rock advises the world to beware of 

1849. THACKERAY, Pendennis, I., p. 
169. The impudent, BOG-TROTTING 
scamp dare not threaten me ! 

1876. C. HINDLEY, Adventures of a 
Cheap Jack, p. 191. ' What do you mean 
by calling me Irish ? it is you that are 

Irish, you .' 'Ha! ha! ha! ha!' 

jerked out Fagan. ' There, I tould you 
so. He can't stand to be called by his 

true name ; the BOG-TROTTING rascal 
denies his Ould Ireland for a mother.' 

BOGUS, adj. (American, now com- 
mon). Spurious : fictitious ; 
a term applied to anything 
sham, or to that which is not 
what it professes to be. Various 
accounts, some of them of a 
circumstantial character, are 
given as to the genesis of this 
word. One thing only seems 
certain ; and that is its Ameri- 
can origin. The generally re- 
ceived derivation, hitherto, has 
been that given by the Boston 
Courier (12 June, 1857) to the 
effect that the word is a vile 
corruption of the Italian name 
Borghese, a notorious swindler, 
who about the year 1837 liter- 
ally flooded the Western and 
South - western States with 
fictitious cheques, notes, and 
bills of exchange and similar 
securities to an enormous 
amount. It is said that the 
name was gradually corrupted 
first to borges and then to BOGUS, 
and the man Borghese being 
associated in the popular mind 
with doubtful money trans- 
actions, his name so corrupted 
into BOGUS became applied to 
fraudulent papers and practices, 
and latterly to any spurious 
or counterfeit object, as BOGUS 
money, hair, diamonds, accusa- 
tions, etc. Yet another sugges- 
tion is one put forward by Mr. 
Jas. Russell Lowell. He thinks 
it has descended in a corrupted 
form from the French Bagasse, 
the refuse of the sugar cane 
after the juice has been ex- 
pressed. This worthless pro- 
duct has, it is suggested, given 
the name to other worthless 
things having travelled from 
Louisiana up the Mississippi, 



Bogy, Bogey. 

and thence throughout the 
Union, finally spreading itself 
over the English speaking 
world. A few, however, affect 
to regard it as a corruption of 
[hocus] pocus, and say that it 
refers to the German ' Hocus 
Pocus Imperatus, wcr nicht sieht 
ist blind.' 

The latest light upon the 
history of the word is thrown, 
as usual, by the indefatigable 
Dr. Murray, who, while slily 
satirising the ' bogus derivations 
circumstantially given,' makes 
another attempt to solve the 
riddle. He says: 'Dr. S. Wil- 
lard, of Chicago, in a letter to 
the editor of this Dictionary, 
quotes from the Painesville (Ohio) 
Telegraph of July 6 and Nov. 2, 
1827, the word BOGUS as a subs., 
applied to an apparatus for 
coining false money. Mr. Eber 
D. Howe, who was then editor 
of that paper, describes in his 
Autobiography (1878) the dis- 
covery of such a piece of me- 
chanism in the hands of a gang 
of coiners at Painesville, in May, 
1827 ' it was a mysterious look- 
ing object, and some one in the 
crowd styled it a BOGUS, a 
designation adopted in the suc- 
ceeding numbers of the paper. 
Dr. Willard considers this to 
have been short for tantrabogus, 
a word familiar to him from his 
childhood, and which in his 
father's time was commonly 
applied in Vermont to any ill- 
looking object ; he points out 
that tantarabobs is given in Halli- 
well as a Devonshire word for 
the devil.' [Bocus seems thus 
to be related to BOGY, etc.] 

1825. HUGHES, in J. Ludlow's Hist. 
U. S., 338. This precious house of repre- 
sentativesthe BOGUS legislature as it 
was at once called. 

1869. S.L.CLEMENS ('Mark Twain'), 
Innocents at Home, ch. xvii. Nobody had 
ever received his BOGUS history as gospel 
before ; its genuineness had always been 
called in question either by words or 
looks ; but here was a man that not only 
swallowed it all down, but was grateful 
for the dose. 

1874. M. COLLINS, Frances, ch. xxxv. 
' They've got some good money, as well 
as BOGUS notes.' 

1883. Saturday Review, March 31, 
p. 399, col. 2. M. Soleirol had probably 
a number of forged autographs of 
Moliere; his whole collection was a 
BOGUS assortment of frauds. 

BOGY, BOGEY, subs, (common). 
A landlord. An attributive 
usage of the more familiar 
meanings (i) the devil ; (2) 
a person much dreaded. The 
transition from sense 2 to that 
which signifies a landlord is 
easy. A French equivalent is 
Monsieur Vautour ; vautour = a 
vulture ; and the term is applied 
to a hard-hearted landlord. In 
passing, it may perhaps be men- 
tioned (having in view the 
uncertainty which Murray con- 
fesses hangs round the history 
of this word in its primary 
meanings) that ASK BOGY, as a 
reply to a question, occurs in 
Grose [1785]. It is true it is 
there associated with a vul- 
garism which, however, on the 
face of it, appears to have had 
little to do with the expression, 
except perhaps in the not over 
clean mind of the burly bon- 
vivant who compiled the dic- 
tionary in question. It seems 
to have been used much as 
the modern ' God knows ' ! 
or ' BRAMAH KNOWS ' under 
similar circumstances. This, 
at any rate, would carry it back, 
in very much its present form, 
much earlier than 1825, Mur- 
ray's earliest trace of it. Grose 



Boiled Shirt. 

says it was ' sea wit," whatever 
that may mean. 

Adj. (studios'). Sombre, or 
dark in tint. Said of a painting 
exhibiting these characteristics. 

BOHN, subs. (American College). 
A translation ; a PONY (q.v.). 
The volumes of Bonn's Classical 
Library are in such general use 
among undergraduates in Ameri- 
can Colleges, that BOHN has 
come to be a common name for 
a translation. 

1855. Songs, Biennial Jubilee, Yale 
College. 'Twas plenty of skin with a 
good deal of BOHN. 

BOIL, verb (old). To betray; 'to 
PEACH," which see for synonyms. 

1602. ROWLANDS, Greene's Coney 
Catchers, 16. His cloyer or follower 
fortwith BOYLES him, that is, bewrayes 
him. [M.] 


Roaring Girl e, wks., 1873, III., 220. Wee 
are smoakt . . . wee are BOYL'D, pox on 
her! [M.] 

BOIL DOWN, verb (popular). To 
reduce in bulk by condensing or 
epitomizing. When a literary 
work is reduced to smaller com- 
pass by the presentation only of 
the main or salient features, it 
is said to be BOILED DOWN. 
[The expression is a figurative 
use (quite recent by-the-bye) of 
BOILING DOWN in the sense of 
lessening the bulk by boiling. ] 

1880. Sat. Review, No. 1288, 28. It 
is surprising to see how much research 
Mr. S. has sometimes contrived TO BOIL 
DOWN into a single line. [M.] 

1885. G. DOLLY, Dickens as I Knew 
Him, p. 125. The newspaper and politi- 
cal elements having been consulted, and 
their opinions having been BOILED 

1887. H. FREDERIC, in Scribn. Mag., 
I., 479. ' To BOIL DOWN ' columns of 
narrative into a few lines of bald, cold 

1888. Polytechnic Mag., 25 Oct., p. 
Whatever you have to say, my friend, 

Whether witty, or grave, or gay 
Condense as much as ever you can, 

And say in the readiest way ; 
And whether you write on rural affairs, 

Or particular things in town, 
}ust a word of friendly advice BOIL IT 

BOILED RAG, subs. (American). 
In the West, BILED SHIRT is the 
odd name given to a shirt of 
white linen, and it is not difficult 
to see the line of reasoning from 
which the term derives its sig- 
nificance. In the active stirring 
life of the West little count is 
taken of the convenances of 
civilization, and only on Sun- 
days and festive occasions would 
the woollen undergarment be 
discarded for the white linen 
article. Indeed, in many cases, 
the former would be worn until 
it literally dropped to pieces. 
Now white shirts are facetiously 
known as BILED SHIRTS all over 
the States, and only recently 
(May, 1888) a question in dis- 
pute between the employes of 
the Chicago Tramway Com- 
panies and the managers of the 
same was whether the former 
should wear, when on duty, 
coloured or BILED SHIRTS. Cf., 

1854. McCLURE, Rocky Mountains, 
p. 412. In order to attend the Governor's 
reception, I borrowed a BOILED SHIRT, 
and plunged in with a Byron collar, and 
polished boots, and also the other 
necessary apparel. 

1869. S.L.CLEMENS ('Mark Twain'), 
Innocents at Home, ch. xii. But they 
were rough in those times ! . . . if a man 
wanted a fight on his hands without any 
annoying delay, all he had to do was to 
appear in public in a white shirt or a 
stove-pipe hat, and he would be accom- 
modated. For those people hated aris 
tocrats. They had a particular and 



Bold as Brass. 

malignant animosity toward what they 
called a BILED SHIRT. 

1872. Dublin Univ. Mag., Feb., p. 
219. Every man arrays himself in 
' store-clothes ' and BOILED SHIRTS. 

1888. New York World, 13 May. Is 
it possible that the Chicagoans never 
heard of white shirts before this spring ? 
May be the street-railway presidents 
never saw a starched shirt (I must de- 
plore the use of the word BILED as 
applied to shirts) until this year. 

BOILER, subs. (Winchester College). 
i. A plain coffee-pot used for 
heating water. Called four- 
penny and sixpenny boilers, not 
from their price, but from the 
quantity of milk they will hold : 
TO Trav BOILERS were large tin 
saucepan-like vessels in which 
water for hot BIDETS (q.v .) was 


BOILER-PLATED, adj. (American). 
Imperturbable ; stolid ; stoical. 
[The simile is akin to that 
contained in expressions like 
iron-clad, copper-bottomed, etc., 
drawn mainly from marine 

subs, (popular). i. A name ori- 
ginally given to the new Ken- 
sington Museum and School of 
Art, in allusion to the peculiar 
form of the buildings, and the 
fact of their being mainly com- 
posed of, and covered with, 
sheet iron. This has been 
changed since the extensive al- 
terations in the building, or 
rather pile of buildings, and the 
term BOILERS is now applied to 
the Bethnal Green Museum. 

1885. Daily News, July 9, p. 5, col. i. 
The building is merely a fragment of the 
old ' BROMPTON BOILERS,' set up originally 
for the South Kensington Museum. 

2. (Royal Military Academy.) 
Boiled potatoes. Fried pota- 
toes are called GREASERS. 

ING or BILING, subs. phr. (com- 
mon). The whole lot; entire 
quantity. [A figurative usage, 
from a quantity boiled at one 
time.] Variants are the WHOLE 
GRIDIRON (q.v.} and ALL THE 

1835. HALIBURTON (' Sam Slick'), 
Clockmaker, 3 S., ch. xviii. The last 
mile, he said, tho' the shortest one of the 
WHOLE BILIN', took the longest [time] 
to do it by a jug full. 

1837. MARRYAT, Dog Fiend, xiii. 
[He] may . . . whip the WHOLE BOILING 
of us off to the Ingees. 

1852. DICKENS, Bleak House, ch. 
lix., p. 496. ' And the WHOLE BILEING of 
people was mixed up in the same 
business, and no other.' 

1874. E. L. LINTON, Patricia Kern- 
ball, ch. xxii. ' He have Dora ? No, 
not if he licked my foot for her, and I 
broke the WHOLE BOILING of them as I 
will ! ' 

BOIL ONE-S LOBSTER, verbal phr. 
(old). To enter the army after 
having been in the church. 
[From LOBSTER, a slang term for 
a soldier, the allusion being to 
the change in colour which 
lobsters undergo in the process 
of boiling, turning from a 
bluish black to red.] Cf. , BLACK 

BOKE, subs. (American thieves'). 
The nose. [This may either 
be derived directly from BEAK, 
sense 3, or indirectly from 
BOKO (q.v.).] For synonyms, 
see CONK. 

BOLD AS BRASS, adv. phr. (popu- 
lar). Audaciously forward ; 
presumptuous ; without shame. 
The simile, or at least the 
general idea, seems to be an old 




one. Shakspeare (see quot.) uses 
the expression ' a face of brass,' 
and even to this day BRASS, 
sense I (q.v.), is synonymous 
with impudence or ' cheek.' 

1594. SHAKSPEARE, Love's Labour 
Lost, v., 2. 
Biron. Thus pour the stars down plagues 

for perjury. 
Can any FACE OF BRASS hold longer 


1846. THACKERAY, Vanity Fair, II., 
p. 12. He came in as BOLD AS BRASS. 

1854. THACKERAY, Lovel the Wid- 
ower, p. 195. 'A nursery governess at 
the wages of a housemaid' I continued, 

c. 1882. Broadside Ballad, 'Timothy 
The name belongs to brave men, and 


I do not wear the lion's skin and show 

myself an ass ; 
I'm full of pluck and can defy, like Ajax, 

And if you put me to the test, a proof I 

soon can bring. 

BOLER, also BOWLER, subs, (popu- 
lar). A stiff felt hat. For syno- 
nyms, see CADY. 

1861. Sat. Review, Sept. 21, 297. We 
are informed that he ... wore, or rather 
carried in his hand, a white BOWLER hat. 

1882. PEBODY, Eng. Journalism, xxi., 
158. The ministers, in BOWLERS and 
pea-jackets, are to be found upon the 
shore of highland locks. 

1889. Ansivers, June 8, p. 24. Most 
of the men were clothed in loud and 
greasy suits of tweed, and wore what are 
known as BOWLER hats, many of them 
much the worse for wear. The ladies 
affected fine and smart costumes, but as 
the greater part of their dresses had seen 
long months of service, the smartness 
was somewhat of the bedraggled order. 

BOLLY, subs. (Marlborough Col- 
lege) . Pudding. 

BOLT, subs. (old). The throat. 
[This curious term would seem 
to be derived from BOLT = to 
gulp down.] 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom tind 
Jerry, Act iii., Sc. 3. Tom. Here, Dusty, 
my prince, now then, sluice your BOLT. 
(Gives Bob gin.) Bob. Veil, your honours, 
here's luck. (Bolts gin.) That's a re- 
gular kwortern, I knows by my mouth. 

Verb (at one period slang, 
now recognised). i. To es- 
cape ; to leave suddenly. BOLT 
is an instance of a word which 
once orthodox, subsequently fell 
into disrepute, but which, after 
having for generations served as 
a mere slang term, is now nearly 
as respectable as when Dry den 
wrote : ' I have reflected on 
those who, from time to time, 
have shot into the world, some 
BOLTING out on the stage with 
vast applause, and others hissed 
off.' The following are a few 
examples of its use. For syno- 
nyms, see AMPUTATE. 

1668. ETHEREGE, She Would if She 
Could, I., i. (1704), p. 94. Is he gone? 
Court. Ay, ay ! you may venture to 
BOLT now. 

1712. ARBUTHNOT, Hist, of John 
Bull, pt. IV., ch. vi. Then, of a sudden, 
BOLTING into the room, he began to 
tell . . . 

1752. FIELDING, Amelia, bk. XL, 
ch. vii. In his way home, Booth was 
met by a lady in a chair, who immedi- 
ately upon seeing him . . . BOLTED out of 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act i., Sc. 7. Log. Come along, 
then. Now, Jerry, chivey ! Jerry. 
Chivey? Log. Mizzle? Jerry. Mizzle? 
Log. Tip your rags a gallop ! Jerry. Tip 
my rags a gallop ? Log. Walk your trot- 
ters ! Jerry. Walk my trotters ? Log. 
BOLT! Jerry. BOLT ? oh, aye! I'm fly 
now. You mean go. 

1837. BARHAM, /. L. (M. of Venice). 
Jessy ransack'd the house, popp'd her 
breeks on, and when so Disguis'd, BOLT- 
ED off with her beau one Lorenzo. 

1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlcwit, 
ch. ix., p. 90. He was more strongly 
tempted ... to make excursive BOLTS 
into the neighbouring alleys when he 
answered the door. 

2. (American.) The usage in 
the United States indicates the 




right of the independently 
minded to revolt against parti- 
san rule, as ' He BOLTED the 
party nominations.' Also sub- 
stantively, as ' He has organized 
a BOLT.' The word derived 
this meaning from its sporting 
application to a horse when it 
becomes unmanageable on the 
race-course. Cf., BOLTER. It 
is rarely used with its dictionary 
meaning in political connections; 
and, when so used, is generally 
misunderstood by the average 

1871. St. Louis Democrat, 3 April. 
1 Several of our contemporaries have 
announced it as a well-established fact, 
that Carl Schurz has BOLTED from the 
Republican party. We have the very 
best authority for denying the report.' 

1888. Daily Inter-Ocean, 3 Feb. 
What the Register does object to are the 
fellows who BOLT the ticket and support 
the opposition candidate when they can 
not control nominations. 

3. (colloquial.) To eat hur- 
riedly without chewing ; to 
swallow whole ; to gulp down. 
Wolcot in a note to the first 
quotation hereunder appended, 
explains BOLT as a Hampshire 
word. ' A rapid deglutition of 
bacon, without the sober ceremony 
of mastication.' 

1794. WOLCOT (' P. Pindar'), Ode to 
Tyrants, in wks. (Dublin, 1795), vol. II., 

o push'd the Emp'ror on, with stride 

so noble, 
BOLTING his subjects with majestic 


1843. DICKENS, Martin Chuzzlewit, 
ch. xvi., p. 171. Dyspeptic individuals 
BOLTED their food in wedges. 

1857. DICKENS, Dorrit, bk. I., ch. 
xiii., 101. 'Give me as short a time as 
you like to BOLT my meals in, and keep 
me at it." 

1883. Daily Telegraph, Jan. 10, 
p. 5, col. 3. The dangerous habit of 
BOLTING a light luncheon in two or three 

(thieves'). Being sentenced to 
penal servitude. Cf., BOAT. 


BOLT STREET, /Af. (popular). 
A humorous expression for 
running away. Cf., BOLT, 
sense i, also QUEER STREET, 
and for synonyms, see AMPU- 

BOLTER, subs. (old). i. Explained 
by quotation. The privileged 
places referred to were such as 
Whitefriars, the Mint, Higher 
and Lower Alsatia, etc. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOLTER (s.), a cant name for one who 
hides himself in his own house, or some 
privileged place, and dares only peep, 
but not go out of his retreat. 

2. One who ' bolts ' ; es- 
pecially applied to horses, but 
figuratively to persons in the 
sense of one given to throwing 
off restraint ; in American par- 
lance one who ' KICKS ' (q.v.). 

1840. THACKERAY, Paris Sk. Bk. (1872), 
244. The engine may explode ... or be 
a BOLTER. [M.] 

1850. F. E. SMEDLEY, Frank Fair- 
legh, ch. xiii. 'Three of the horses had 
never been in harness before, and the 
fourth was a BOLTER.' 

1852. DICKENS, Bleak House, ch. 
Iviii., p. 483. This sparkling sally is to 
the effect that, although he always knew 
she was the best-groomed woman in the 
stud, he had no idea she was a BOLTER. 
It is immensely received in turf-circles. 

1881. C. J. DUNPHIE, The Chameleon, 
p. 17. It is better to ride a steady old 
plodder than to trust your neck to a 

3. (American.) One who 
exercises the right of abstention 
in regard to his political party. 
See BOLT, verb, sense 2. 

1883. Atlantic Monthly, LII., 327. 
To whom a ' scratcher ' or a BOLTER is 
more hateful than the Beast. [M.] 




1884. American, VIII., 100. To 
denounce the twenty-seven as BOLTERS 
from their party. 

BOLT-IN-TUN, phr. (London 
thieves'). Bolted; runaway. 

1819. J. H. VAUX, Memoirs. A term 
founded on the cant word ' bolt,' and 
merely a fanciful variation very common 
among flash persons, there being in 
London a famous inn so called. It is 
customary when a man has run away 
from his lodgings, broken out of jail, or 
made any other sudden movement, to say 
' the BOLT-IN-TUN is concerned,' or ' he's 
gone to the BOLT-IN-TUN ' instead of 
simply saying, ' he has bolted,' etc. 


subs, (common). An old and 
humorous term for the nose. 
[The analogy is between the 
spar or boom extending beyond 
the stem of a vessel and the 
nose as a prominent and pro- 
jecting feature of the face.] 
For synonyms, see CONK. 

1690. SHADWELL, Amorous Bigot, 
Actv. As thou lovest thy ears, or nose, 
that BOLT-SPRIT of thy face. [M.] 

1691. SHADWELL, Scowerers, Act v. 
They do not consider the tenderness of 
my BOLT-SPRIT. [M.] 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOLTSPRIT (s.), a cant name for the nose. 

BOLT THE MOON, verbal phr. To 
remove one's goods and chattels 
under cover of night with a view 
of evading the payment of rent. 
A variant of SHOOT THE MOON 
(q.v.) ; the act itself is called a 


Bo LUS , subs, (common) .An apothe- 
cary ; a doctor. [From BOLUS, 
a large pill frequently pre- 
scribed by physicians.] 

1878. HATTON, Cruel London, bk. 
VI., ch. ii. ' The doctor, up from the 
Indian bar, came and said I was wanted 
in London ' . . . ' good for old BOLUS,' 
said Kernan ; ' and I believe him. 1 

BOMAN, subs. (old). A gallant 
fellow. This is mentioned by 
Nares, who, however, could 
find no example illustrating its 

BOMBAY DUCKS, subs. (old). I. 
The Bombay regiments of the 
East India Company's army 
were so called. 

2. A well known delicacy, 
the exact nature of which is 
explained by G. A. Sala in the 
second quotation. 

1865. G. A. SALA, in Daily Tele- 
graph, 14 August, 5, 4. His cuisine was, 
with the occasional interpolation of a 
not entirely objectionable curry, accom- 
panied by BOMBAY DUCKS, exclusively 
old-fashioned English. 

1886. G. A. SALA, in III. Low. News, 
7 August, 138, 2. The BOMBAY DUCK is 
the Anglo-Indian relation of the Digby 
chick. Alive, it is a fish called the 
bummelo ; dead and dried, it becomes a 

BOMBO, BUMBO, subs, (common). 
A nickname given to various 
mixtures, but chiefly to cold 
punch. Smollett, in a note in 
Roderick Random, speaks of it as 
' a liquor composed of rum, 
sugar, water, and nutmeg.' 

1748. SMOLLETT, Roderick Random, 
ch. xxxiv. A table well stored with 
BUMBO and wine. 

1867. SMYTH, Sailors' Word Book. 
BOMBO, weak cold punch. 

a. 1886. Northmnb. Song, in N. and 
Q., 6 March, 195. The pitmen and the 
keelman . . . drink BUMBO made of gin. 

BONA, subs, (popular). A girl; 
young woman ; a belle. 

c. 18(1). Broadside Ballad, ' Oh, Fred, 
don't be so frivolous.' 
Girls are in vulgar called DONAS, 

Some are called Miss and some Mrs., 
The best of them all are called BONAS, 
The whole jolly lot's fond of kisses. 
I kiss pretty lips, and I squeeze finger 

No matter what I have to pay, 




If I meet a dear maid who is somewhat 


She'll blush like a virgin and say, ' Oh 
my.' Chorus. 

Adj. (theatrical). Good. 
[From the Latin.] S^RUMBO. 

BONANZA, subs. (American). A 
happy hit ; a stroke of fortune ; 
success. [From the Spanish, 
a fair wind, fine weather, pros- 
perous voyage.] BONANZA was 
originally the name of a mine 
in Nevada, which once, quite 
unexpectedly, turned out to be 
a big thing, and of enormous 
value ; now applied to any 
lucky hit or successful enter- 

1875. Scribner's Mag., July, p. 272. 
But a BONANZA with millions in it is not 
struck every week. 

1888. San Francisco News Letter, 
4 Feb. The mines along the veins run- 
ning north and south, of which North 
Belle Isle is the center, are all stayers, 
and in the east and west ledge Grand 
Prize has entered a body of ore which 
may develop into a BONANZA as big as 
the one which paid millions in dividends 
in years gone by. 

BONA-ROBA, subs. (old). A courte- 
san ; a showy prostitute. [From 
Italian buona, good, + ROBA = a 
robe or dress.] The term was 
much in use among the older 
dramatists. Ben Jonson speaks 
of a bouncing BONA-ROBA ; and 
Cowley seems to have con- 
sidered it as implying a fine, tall 
figure. BONA in modern times 
is frequently employed to sig- 
nify a girl or young woman, 
without reference to morals. 

1598. SHAKSPEARE, 2 Henry IV., 
iii., 2. We knew where the BONA-ROBAS 
were; and had the best of them all at 

b. 1618, d. 1667. COWLEY, Essay on 
Greatness (quoted by Nares). I would 
neither wish that my mistress nor my 
fortune should be a BONA-ROBA ; but as 

Lucretius says, Parvida, pumilio, iota 
inentin scil. 

1822. SCOTT, Nigel, xvi. Your lord- 
ship is for a frolic into Alsatia ? . . . 
there are BONA-ROBAS to be found 
there. [M.] 

Shcppard [1889], p. 69. The other BONA- 
ROBA, known amongst her companions 
as Mistress Poll Maggot, was a beauty 
on a much larger scale in fact, a perfect 

BONCE, subs, (popular). i. The 
head ; [probably a derivative of 
sense 2, from the analogy 
between them.] For synonyms, 

2. A large marble [origin 
unknown, but see ALLEY]. 

BONE, subs. (American). When a 
traveller, in passing his luggage 
through the Custom House, tips 
the officer in the expectation 
that the latter's examination of 
his impedimenta will be more 
or less superficial, the fee thus 
given is termed a BONE. The 
practice, is, of course, contrary 
to all regulations ; but, human 
nature being human nature all 
the world over, it is believed 
that similar expedients for 
evading the law are not alto- 
gether unknown in England. 

Adj. (thieves'). Good; ex- 
cellent ; <^> is the vagabonds' 
hieroglyphic for BONE, or good, 
chalked by them on houses and 
street corners as a hint to 
succeeding beggars. [Probably 
from French bon, good. Cf., 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 232. He [beggar] 
mostly chalks a signal on or near the 
door. I give one or two instances. 
<> ' BONE,' meaning good. 

1883. G. A. S [ALA], in III. L. News, 
Nov. 10, p. 451, col. 3. It is well known 
that the lozenge-shaped diagram chalked 
by beggars and tramps on doors and 




walls in ' promising ' neighbourhoods 
stands for ' BONE,' a corruption of the 
French ' ban,' as a hint to succeeding 
vagabonds that they will find the happiest 
of hunting-grounds in the locality. 

Verb (popular). i. To filch; 
to steal ; to make off with ; to 
take into custody. [There are 
two suggested derivations : (i) 
that the figure of speech is 
drawn from the manner in 
which a dog makes off with a 
bone ; (2) that BONE is a cor- 
ruption of ' bonnet ' (a gambling 
cheat who ' sharks ' one's money 
slyly).] For synonyms in sense 
of to steal, see PRIG ; in sense 
of to apprehend, see NAB. 

1748. T. DVCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BONE (v.), a cant word to seize or arrest; 
also to cheat or strip a person of his 
money or goods. 

1819. J. H. VAUX, Memoirs, II., 157. 
Tell us how you was BONED, signifies 
tell us the story of your apprehension, a 
common request among fellow-prisoners 
in a jail, which is readily complied with 
as a rule ; and the various circumstances 
therein related afford present amuse- 
ment, and also useful hints for regulat- 
ing their future operations, so as to 
avoid the like misfortune. 

1838. DICKENS, Nich. Nickleby, ch. 
Ivii., p. 467. 'And why you were living 
so quiet here, and what you had BONED, 
and who you had BONED it from, wasn't 

1861. Miss BRADDON, Trail of the 
Serpent, bk. II., ch. ii. Tin blest if he 
hasn't been and BONED my mug. I hope 
it'll do him more good than it's done 

1871. Chambers' Journal, Dec. 9, A 
Double Event, p. 774. It would be a 
breach of confidence to tell you how it 
was arranged, but, after some haggling, 
it was arranged that, on the understand- 
ing that I gave up the securities, I was 
to BONE the reward which the detectives 
had missed. 

2. (American.) To bribe; 
to 'grease the palm.' See BONE, 

3. (American cadets'.) To 
study hard. [ From BOHN 


ARM THROAT, ETC., pllV '. (com- 

mon). A humorous reason for 
declining to use the member 
spoken of ; a feigned obstacle. 

1542. NICHOLAS UDALL, Erasmus's 
Apophthi'gmcs (1877, Reprint of ed. 1562), 
p. 375. He refused to speake, allegeing 


he could not speake. 

1738. SWIFT, Polite Conversation 
(conv. iii.). Nev. Miss, conie, be kind 
for once, and order me a dish of coffee. 
Miss. Pray go yourself; let us wear out 
the oldest first ; besides, 1 can't go, for I 


BONE-ACHE, subs. (old). The lues 
vcnerea. [The allusion is ob- 

1592. NASHE, Pierce Penilesse. But 
cucnl I us non facit monachitm 'tis not 
their newe bonnets will keepe them from 
the old BOAN-ACK. 

1606. SHAKSPEARE, Tro. and C ., ii., 
3. After this the vengeance on the 
whole camp ! or rather the BONE-ACHE ! 
for that, methinks, is the ciirse dependent 
on those that war for a placket. 

BONE-BOX, snbs. (common). The 
mouth. [The teeth are here 
represented as the 'bones.' 
The latter are now more com- 
monly called 'ivories.'] For 
synonyms, see POTATO-TRAP, and 
compare with BONE-HOUSE. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue.. Shut your BONE-BOX; shut 
your mouth. 

BONE-CRUSHER, subs, (sporting). 
A heavy bore rifle used for 
killing big game. [Literally 
that which crushes or breaks 
bones by force. C/., BONE- 

1872. H. M. STANLEY, How I Found 
Livingstone (2 ed.), p. 63. African 
game require BONE-CRUSHERS; for any 
ordinary carbine possesses sufficient 
penetrative qualities, yet has not the 
disabling qualities which a gun must 
possess to be useful in the hands of an 




African explorer. Ibid, p. 342. What is 
wanted for this country is a heavy bore 
No. 10 or 12 is the real BONE-CRUSHER, 
that will drop every animal shot. 

BONED. See BONE, verb, sense i. 

BONE-GRUBBER, subs, (common). 
i. One who lives by collecting 
bones from heaps of refuse, 
selling his spoils at the marine 
stores or to bone grinders. 
[From BONE + GRUB, to seek 
by burrowing, + ER.] Also called 
BONE-PICKER (gv.), and TOT- 
PICKERS (q.v.). See first quota- 
tion and cf. BONE-PICKER form. 
The French term is un biffin, 
which also signifies a foot- 
soldier, his knapsack being 
compared to a rag or bone- 
picker's basket ; also un chifferton 
or un chiffortin ; un cupidon (an 
ironical allusion to his hook and 
basket) ; un graffin. For other 
synonyms, see TOT-PICKER. 

c. 1750. 'The Hunter's Wedding,' 
quoted in J. Ashton's The Fleet, 1888, 
p. 366. 
Sam the GRUBBER, he having had 

His wallet and broom down did lay. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, Lon. Lab. and 
Lon. Poor, vol. II., p. 155. The BONE- 
GRUBBER generally seeks out the narrow 
back streets, where dust and refuse are 
cast, or where any dust-bins are 
accessible. The articles for which he 
chiefly searches are rags and bones, 
rags he prefers, but waste metal, such 
as bits of lead, pewter, copper, brass, or 
old iron, he prizes above all. 

1862. MAYHEW, Crim. Prisons, 40. 
A black-chinned and lanthorn-jawed 


2. A resurrectionist ; a violator 
of graves. Cobbett was there- 
fore called ' a BONE-GRUBBER," 
because he brought the remains 
of Tom Paine from America. 
Cf., BONE-HOUSE. Latterly, from 
the quotation which follows, 
the term seems to have been 

extended to all having to do 
with funerals. 

1863. G. A. SALA, Breakfast in Bed, 
essay vii., p. 181 (1864). The crowd in 
Cheapside declared that I was a mute. 
They called me BONE-GRUBBER. 

BONE-HOUSE, subs, (familiar). - 
i. The human body an obvious 

1870. EMERSON, Soc. and Sol., vi., 
119. This wonderful BONE-HOUSE 
which is called man. [M.] 

2. A coffin. The term is 
also used to signify a charnel- 
house, and Americans generally 
call a cemetery a ' bone-yard.' 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick Papers, 
II., p. 207. Nothing soon lie in bed 
starve die Inquest little BONE-HOUSE 
poor prisoner. 

1846. WALBRAN, Guide Ripon. The 
celebrated BONE-HOUSE no longer exists. 

1848. FORSTER, Life and Times of 
Oliver Goldsmith, II., p. 165 (bk. IV., 
ch. viii.). The body [of a man who had 
poisoned himself] was taken to the 
BONE-HOUSE of St. Andrew's, but no one 
came to claim it. 

BONE MUSCLE, verbal phr. (Ameri- 
can college). To practice 
gymnastics. Cf., BONE, verb, 
sense 3. 

BONE-PICKER, subs, (common). i. 
A footman. [Evidently a con- 
temptuous allusion to sense 2, 
a footman's duties being to pick 
up and set in order after his 
employer.] The French term 
is tin larbin. 

2. (common.) A collector 
of bones, rags, and other refuse 
from the streets and places 
where rubbish is placed, for the 
purpose of sale to marine 
dealers and bone crushers. 
The same as BONE-GRUBBER, 




1866. RUSKIN, Crown of Wild Olives, 
p. 25. The deceased was a BONE-PICKER. 
He was in the lowest stage of poverty, 

BONER, subs. (Winchester College). 
A sharp blow on the spine. 

BONES, subs, (common). i. Dice, 
which are also called ST. HUGH'S 
BONES (q.v.). [So called be- 
cause made of bone or ivory.] 
'To rattle the BONES,' i.e., ' to 
play at dice.' The term is a 
very old one, as also seem to 
be games played with the little 
cubes in question. 

c. 1386. CHAUCER, Pard. T., 328. 
This fruyt cometh of the bicched BONES 
two, fforsweryng, Ire, falsnesse, Homy- 

a. 1529. SKELTON, wks. (ed. Dyce) 
I., 52. On the horde he whyrled a payre 


1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, 
in wks. ( Grosart ) III., 123. Who being 
left by his parents rich in money and 
possessions, hath to the musicke of 
square ratling BONES danced so long, 
that hee hath danced himselfe into the 
company of beggers. 

1698. DRYDEN, Persius, III., 96. 
But then my study was to cog the dice, 
And dexterously to throw the lucky 

sice : 
To shun ames-ace, that swept my stakes 

away ; 
And watch the box, for fear they should 

False BONES, and put upon me in the play. 

1772. FOOTE, Nabob, Act ii. When 
your chance is low, as tray, ace, or two 
deuces, the best method is to dribble out 
the BONES from the box. 

1849. THACKERAY, Pendennis, ch. 
xviii. ' I saw you sit down to ecarte last 
week at Trumpington's, and taking your 
turn with the BONES after Ringwood's 

1861. WHYTE MELVILLE, Good for 
Nothing, ch, xxviii. ' What with specu- 
lations failing, and consols dropping all 
at once, not to mention a continual run 
of ill-luck with the BONES, I saw no way 
out of it but to bolt.' 

2. (common.) Pieces of 
BONES held between the fingers 

and played Spanish castanet 
fashion. Generally used as an 
accompaniment to banjo and 
other ' negro ' minstrel music. 

1592. SHAKSPEARE, Midsummer 
Night's Dream, iv., i, line 27. Tita. 
What, wilt thou hear some music, ray 
sweet love? Bot. I have a reasonable 
good ear in music : let us have the tongs 
and the BONES. 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III., p. 195. Peter rolling 
about in his chair like a serenader play- 
ing the BONES, and the young Othello 
laughing as if he was being tickled. 
Ibid, p. 201. The BONES, we've real 
BONES, rib-of-beef BONES, but some have 
ebony BONES, which sound better than 
rib-BONES they tell best, etc. 

1865. Times, 17 July. Amateur negro 
melodists . . . thumped the banjo and 
rattled the BONES. [M.] 

3. (common.) A member 
of a ' negro ' minstrel troupe ; 
generally applied to one of the 
' end ' men who plays the BONES 
(sense 2). 

1851. MAYHEW, London Labour and 
London Poor, III. First of all we formed 
a school of three two banjos and a 
tambourine, and after that we added a 
BONES and a fiddle. 

1867. RHODA BROUGHTON, Cometh 
up as a Flower, p. 236. The band clashes 
out ; big fiddle and little fiddle, harp and 
BONES, off they go. 

1884. Sat. Review, June 7, 740, col. i. 
A single row of negro minstrels seated 
on chairs . . . while at the end are 
BONES and Sambo. [M.] 

4. (general.) The bones of 
the human body, but more 
generally applied to the teeth. 
French thieves call these les 
piloches (/) ; and les osselots (m). 
and for synonyms, see GRINDERS. 

5. (common. ) A surgeon; 
generally SAWBONES (q.v.). A 
list of curious nicknames for 
the medical profession will also 
be found under SQUIRT. 

1887. Chamb. Journal, Jan. 8, p. 30. 
' I have sent for the village BONES, and 




if he can but patch me up, it may not yet 
be too late. 

6. (Stock Exchange.) (i) The 
shares of Wickens, Pease and 
Co.; (2) North British 4/ ist 
Preference Shares, the 4/ 2nd 
Preference Stock being nick- 
named BONETTAS. 


BONE, phr. (common), i.e., as 
free from moisture as a bone 
after it has been picked and 
cleaned, as by a dog. 

1833. MARRYAT, Petty Simple, i. It's 


1837. R. NICOLL, Poems (1843), 83. 
Dubs were HARD AS ONY BANE. 


BE BONE, phr. (American). An 
old time saying equivalent to an 
admission that ' all is not gold 
that glitters ' ; that the realiza- 
tion of one's hopes never comes 
up to the ideal formed of them. 

1888. The World, 13 May. People 
here (in the west) have to get up and get 
in order to make both ends meet, and 
even then ONE END is PRETTY SURE 



(vulgar). To attack. 

b. 1616, d. 1704. SIR R. L'ESTRANGE 
(in Annandale). Puss had a month's 
but was not willing to pick a quarrel. 


BONES. A simile signifying as- 
surance ; conviction. 

1887. Scribner's Magazine. I ain't 
a-goin' to mention no names but I kin 
FEEL IT IN MY BONES that things ain't 
on the square here, there's a nigger in 
the fence. 

1888. Missouri Republican, 22 Feb. 
Nat. M. Shelton, of Lancaster, said : ' I 
am in the race of attorney-general, and I 
FEEL IT IN MY BONES that I will get the 


(familiar) . To make no scruple ; 

to show no hesitation ; to com- 
mence and finish a work with- 
out difficulty now restricted to 
colloquial use ; it was for- 
merly current literary coin, and 
is frequently to be met with in 
our older literature. Its earlier 
form was, 'to find bones in,' 
which clearly shows the phrase 
to have originated in a reference 
to bones in soup, or similar 
food, regarded as obstacles to 
swallowing. In this sense it is 
found as early as the middle of 
the fifteenth century, in the 
Paston Letters. It does not 
occur in its present shape TO 
MAKE BONES until a century 
later ; but, from this period on 
to the end of the seventeenth 
century it was in constant use. 

1459. Paston Lett., 331, I., 444. 
And FOND that tyiue NO BONYS in the 
matere. [M.] 

1542. UDALL, Apoph. of Erasmus, 
p. 133 (1877). Yea, and rather then faill, 
both whole mainor places, and also whole 
Lordships, the 'MAKE NO BONES, ne 
sticke not, quite and cleue to swallow 
doune the narrow lane, and the same to 
spue up again.' 

1565. SHACKLOCK, Hatchet of Here- 
sies. And instede of that whiche he 
saide, This is my body, they haue MADE 
NO BONES AT IT, to say, this is my brede. 

1590. GREENE, Francesco's Fortune, 
in wks. VIII., 189. Tricke thy selfe vp in 
thy best reparrell, and MAKE NO BONES 
at it but on a woing [wooing] . 

1596. NASHE, Saffron Waldcn, in 
wks. III., 112. He . . . would MAKE NO 
BONES to take the wall of Sir Philip 

1677. WYCHERLEY, Plain Dealer, 
Act iii. Man. How could I refrain ? A 
lawyer talked peremptorily and saucily 
to me, and as good as gave me the lie. 
Free. They do it so often to one another 
at the bar, that they MAKE NO BONES on't 

1849. THACKERAY, Pcndcnnis, ch. 
Ixiv. Do you think that the Government 
or the Opposition would MAKE ANY BONES 
about accepting the seat if it be offered 
to them ? 





WITH ONE, phr. (colloquial). To 
have an unpleasant matter to 
settle with one; also, a difficulty 
to solve ; ' a nut to crack.' 

1565. COLFHILL, Answ. Treat. Cron. 
(1846), 277. A BONE for you TO PICK ON. 

1783. AINSWORTH, Lat. Diet. (Mo- 
rell), i, s.v. Pick, To GIVE ONE A 
BONE TO PICK, scrupulum alicui injicere. 
1850-68. H. ROGERS, Ess., II., ii. 
(1874), 103. Many a BONE in these lectures 
which a keen metaphysician would be 
disposed TO PICK WITH the author. 

BONESETTER, subs. (old). A hard 
riding horse ; a ricketty convey- 
ance ; properly one whose occu- 
pation is to set broken and 
dislocated bones. The sarcastic, 
punning reference is of course to 
the dire effects which naturally 
follow the use of an animal of 
such a description. The odd 
way in which slang is often 
derived, strikes one at times as 
very curious. Not only are 
words frequently coined which 
resemble genuine words, such as 
' solemncholy ' for ' melancholy,' 
and ' it don't much magnify ' 
for ' it don't much signify,' but 
the meaning of such factitious 
words is, in many cases, either 
subtly reversed or endowed 
with an extremely cynical tinge 
of humour and sarcasm. The 
present instance is a case in 
point. A more modern term is 
BONESHAKER (q.v.), which is less 
subtle in its meaning, BONE- 
SETTER being certainly far 
more brutally cynical in its 
suggestiveness. See second quo- 
tation for some curious 
synonyms formerly in use. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the 
Vulgar Tongue. BONE SETTER, a hard 
trotting horse. 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFF, Tom and 
Jerry, Act i., Sc. 7. Jerry. 1 long to be 

there, let's hasten to dress at once. 
Log. Aye; call a rattler. Jerry. A 
rattler! I'm at fault again. Log. A rattler 
is a rumbler, otherwise a jarvy! better 
known perhaps by the name of a hack ; 
handy enough in a wet day, or a hurry. 
Jerry. A hack! If it's the thing we 
rattled over the stones in to-day, It might 
more properly be called a BONE-SETTER. 
Tom Or bone-breaker. But if you 
dislike going in a hack, we'll get you a 
mab. Jerry. A mab ! I'm at fault again 
never shall get properly broken in. 
Tom. A mab is a jingling jarvy !a cab- 
riolet, Jerry. But we must mind our 
flash doesn't peep out at Almack s. Tis 
classic ground there. 

BONE-SHAKE, verb (popular). To 
ride a BONE-SHAKER (q.v.), i.e., 
a heavy bicycle of a very old 


1889. A usurers, Feb. 23, p. 195, col. i. 
Among those who learnt to BONESHAKE 
was Charles Dickens, who, had he lived, 
would have been a devoted cyclist. 

BONE-SHAKER, subs. (old). i. A 
hard trotting horse. See BONE- 

2. (popular.) An old type of 
bicycle in use prior to the intro- 
duction of india-rubber tires and 
other manifold improvements. 
The first bicycle propelled by 
cranks and pedals was ridden 
in Paris in 1864. It created 
enormous excitement. On 
being introduced into England 
people went bicycle mad, and 
the number of persons who 
suffered in consequence of riding 
the old BONE-SHAKERS was con- 
siderable. Among those who 
learnt to ' bone-shake ' was 
Charles Dickens, who, had he 
lived, would have been a 
devoted cyclist, for he regarded 
the sport as a grand one, and 
prophesied a big future for it. 
In 1868 Mr. Charles Spencer 
rode to Brighton on a BONE- 
SHAKER in 14 hours from 
London. The papers were full 

Bone Standing. 



of what was then considered an 
extraordinary feat, but on Aug. 
10, 1889, four riders of the 
Polytechnic Cycling Club 
covered the distance to Brighton 
and back, 108 miles, in 7 hours 
50 minutes, which is better time 
than a most perfectly-appointed 
modern four-in-hand can be 
driven over the same course 
by the aid of unlimited relays 
of horses kept in readiness to 
be changed at a moment's 
notice. Only one machine was 
used throughout the trial, viz., 
a safety roadster, weighing 
36 Ibs. 

1874. A. HOWARD, Bicycle, 10. In 
1870 and 1871, the low, long BONE-SHAKER 
began to fall in public esteem. [M.] 

1884. G. L. HILLIER, in Longman's 
Mag., March, p. 487. The BONE-SHAKER, 
as the ribald cyclist of the present day 
designates the ancestor of his present 

1885. Nineteenth Century, Jan., p. 92. 
In the Field's report of the performance 
of the Cambridge Town Bicycle Club 
we find this entry : ' Half Mile Race on 
BONE-SHAKERS, not exceeding 36 in.' 

BONE STANDING, verbal phr. (Ame- 
rican college). To study hard. 
[Evidently an allusion to the 
alertness implied by a standing 

BON ETTAS, subs. (Stock Exchange.) 
The 4 / 2nd North British 
2nd Preference Stock. See 
BONES, sfo.,sense6, 2. 


BONIFACE, subs, (popular). The 
landlord of a tavern or inn. 
[Derived from Farquhar 's play . ] 

1707. FARQUHAR, Beaux Stratagem. 
[BONIFACE is here given as the name of 
landlord of the inn.] 

1803. BRISTED, Pedest. Tour, I., 120. 
To give the characteristic features and 

to stamp the peculiar traits of honest 

1854. WHYTE MELVILLE, General 
Bounce, ch. xvi. The landlord either 
could not, or would not, give them any 
actual information as to his guests. . . . 
So the blue-coated myrmidons of Scot- 
land Yard got but little information from 

BONING ADJUTANT, verbal phr. 
(American cadets'). Aping a 
military bearing. [From BONE, 
to study, to imitate.] So also 
BONING MUSCLE (q.v.) is going 
in largely for gymnastics. To 
BONE STANDING, to study hard. 
BONING DEMERIT, giving no 
cause for complaint as regards 
one's conduct. All West Point 
cadet slang. 

BONK, subs, (travelling show- 
mens'). A short, steep hill. 
[Possibly only a provincialism, 
or an obsolete form of ' bank.'] 

1876. HINDLEY, Adventures of a 
Cheap Jack, p. 302. In Lancashire, 
Yorkshire, Derbyshire, and Stafford- 
shire, the approaches to some of the 
large works are either up or down some 
steep, short hill, usually termed BONK, and 
the drivers of heavily laden carts with 
two horses have the breeching on the 
leading chain-horse, as well as the horse 
in the shafts, so that when they are 
going down one of these steep BONKS, the 
horse is as useful as a help in drawing 

BONNET, subs. (old). i. A gam- 
bling cheat ; a decoy at auctions. 
[So-called because they BONNET 
or blind the eyes of the victims. 
See BONNET, verb, sense i.] 
Hotten says sometimes called a 
as though he were a mem- 
ber of the general public, and 
by his good luck, or by the 
force of his example, induces 
others to venture their stakes. 
BONNETING is often done in 
much better society than that 



Bonnets So Blue. 

to be found in the ordinary 
gaming-rooms. A man who 
persuades another to buy an 
article on which he receives 
commission or percentage, is 
said to BONNET or bear-up for 
the seller. Also called a BON- 
NETER. The French has bon- 
neteur for one profuse in com- 
pliments and bows. 

1812. J. H. VAUX, Flash Dictionary. 
BONNET, a concealment. 

1841. Comic Almanack, October. 
Or a man at a hell, Playing the part of a 


1853. WHYTE MELVILLE, Digly 
Grand, ch. xxi. I began to think 
my military friend was ' a BONNET,' 
one of those harpies employed 
by gambling-house keepers to enhance 
temptation by the influence of example, 
and generally selected for their respect- 
able and innocent appearance. 

(?) 1868. Times (quoted by BREWER, 
Phrase and Fable, p. 104). A man who 
sits at a gaming-table, and appears to be 
playing against the table ; when a 
stranger appears, the BONNET generally 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and A dventures 
of a Cheap Jack, p. 217. We bid or praised 
up his goods : in fact, often acted as 
1 puffers' or BONNETS, to give him a leg 

1885. Morning Post, Sept. 5, p. 7, 
col. 3. There was no distinct evidence 
to connect him with a conspiracy to 
defraud. . . He might have been used as 
a sort of BONNET to conceal the utter 
worthlessness of propositions made by 
the others. 

2. (old.) Apretex ; pretence; 
or 'make believe.' 

3. A woman. [This sense is 
analogous to ' petticoat,' the 
names of articles of feminine 
attire being transferred to the 

1880. Punch's Almanac, p. 3. Then 
comes Easter, Got some coin in hand, 
Trot a BONNET out and do the grand. 

Verb (common). i. To act 
as a BONNET (q.v .) ; to cheat ; 
to puff; to ' BEAR UP ' (q.v.). 

1871. ' Hawk's-Eye,' Budget of Turf 
Notes, p. 2. I could point out now what 
horses he is BONNETING for the 2,000 
Guineas and Derby of this year, and the 
horses whose pretensions he is trying to 

1887. Referee, 15 May, p. i, col. 3. 
Nobody can suppose that I am anxious 
to BONNET for the Times newspaper. 

2. (popular.) To crush a 
man's hat down over his eyes. 

1835. DICKENS, Sketches by Boz, p. 
229. Two young men, who, now and 
then, varied their amusements by BON- 
NETING the proprietor of this itinerant 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, II., p. 216. 
You are a dutiful and affectionate little 
boy to come a BONNETIN' your father in 
his old age. 

1843. DICKENS, Christmas Carol in 
Prose, p. 22. Scrooge reverently dis- 
claimed . . . any knowledge of having 
wilfully BONNETED the Spirit at any 
period of his life. 

1882. Saturday Review, LIV., p. 629. 
The students hustled and ' BONNETTED' 
a new professor. 


phr. (common) . To fail in busi- 
ness. [From the green cloth 
cap formerly worn by bank- 

BON NET- BUILDER, subs, (popular). 
A milliner. [The derivation is 
clear.] See BUILD. 

1839. Song in The Little Melodist, 
quoted in J. Ashton's The Fleet, p. 93. 
Will you go to Bagnigge Wells, BONNET 


1868. BREWER, Phrase and Fable, 
s.v. ' Build.' A milliner is jestingly 
called a ' BONNET-BUILDER.' 

BONNETER. i. See BONNET, subs., 
sense i. 

2. (common.) A crushing 
blow on the hat. See BONNET, 
verb, sense 2. 

BONNETS So BLUE, subs, (rhyming 
slang). Irish stew. See RHYM- 




BONO, adj. (circus and thieves'). 
Good. [From the Latin.] 

BOOBY HUTCH, subs, (thieves'). 
A police station ; so called no 
doubt from the light in which 
the criminal classes regard those 
who are foolish enough or un- 
fortunate enough to get ' landed ' 
in such places. [BOOBY = a 
fool + HUTCH, a box or con- 
fined space.] 

BOOBY-TRAP, subs, (schoolboys'). 
An arrangement of books, 
wet sponges, vessels of water, 
etc., so arranged on the top of 
a door set ajar that when the 
intended victim enters the room, 
the whole falls upon him. 

1850. SMEDLEY, Frank Fairlegh, 
ch. iii., p. 28. He had devoted it to the 
construction of what he called a ' BOOBY- 
TRAP,' which ingenious piece of mechan- 
ism was arranged in the following man- 
ner: The victim's room-door was placed 
ajar, and upon the top thereof a Greek 
Lexicon, or any other equally ponderous 
volume, was carefully balanced, and 
upon this was set in its turn a jug of 
water. If all these were properly ad- 
justed, the catastrophe above described 
was certain to ensue when the door was 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice P' xiv. 
1 1 made a first-rate BOOBY-TRAP, though, 
one day for an old yellow buffer who 
came in to see you.' 

1883. Sat. Review, Nov. 3, p. 566, 
col. 2. On bis way down to dinner he is 
suddenly drenched from head to foot by 
a BOOBY-TRAP a sponge soaked in water 
placed above a half-open door. 

BOODLE, subs. (American). i. A 
crowd ; a company ; the ' WHOLE 
BOILING ' (q.v.). With this mean- 
ing the form often appears as CA- 
BOODLE (q.v.). [As regards deri- 
vation, which is obscure, Murray, 
speaking of both senses as here 
treated, says the U.S. BOODLE, 
in sense i, must be the same as 
Markham's ' buddle ' (see quo- 

tation given below from New 
English Dictionary) ; sense 2 
(also only in U.S.) may be a 
different word. BOODLE sug- 
gests a Dutch origin from boedel 
pronounced BOODLE, and in its 
primary sense means ' house- 
hold stuff, 1 and refers to pro- 
perty left by a testator. It is 
curious to note that BODLE was 
a Scotch coin of the value of 
one-sixth of a penny.] 

1625. F. MARKHAM, Bk. Honour, 
IV., ii. Men curiously and carefully 
chosen out (from all the BUDDLE and 
masse of great ones) for their approoued 
wisedome. [M.] 

1857. O. W. HOLMES, Autocrat, p. 
139. He would like to have the whole 
BOODLE of them (I remonstrated against 
this word, but the professor said it was a 
diabolish good word . . . ) with their 
wives and children shipwrecked on a 
remote island. 

1865. BACON, Handbook of America, 
p. 361. BOODLE, ' the whole BOODLE of 
them,' i.e., all, the whole. [List of 

1884. E. E. HALE, Xmas. in Narra- 
gansett, ch. ix., p. 272. At eleven o'clock 
the ' whole BOODLE of them,' as Uncle 
Nahum called the caravan . . . had to 
boot and spur for church. [M.] 

2 . (Am erican .) In its second 
signification this curious word 
seems to have come into promi- 
nent use in politics during the 
past five years. Its meaning 
and usage is thus explained in 
Americanisms Old and New. 
Some elections cannot be con- 
ducted without BOODLE first 
and last. BOODLE does not 
mean the capital or stock-in- 
trade, except the business or 
trade be something secret, pecu- 
liar and illegal. BOODLE always 
means money; but money has not 
always been BOODLE (see sense 4). 
Money honestly received and 
spent, money that circulates in 
regular and honest channels, 
that appears in cash-book and 




ledger and expense account, 
is never BOODLE ; but when a 
sum a thousand dollars, more 
or less is given to some one to 
use in influencing a third 
party, given perhaps in silence 
and certainly without requiring 
any writing of acknowledgment 
or obligation that is BOODLE. 
BOODLE is money used for 
purposes of bribery and cor- 
ruption ; and the same word is 
employed to indicate the money 
that comes as spoils, the result of 
some secret deal, the profits of 
which are silently divided. The 
term is likewise used to cover 
the ill-gotten gains of the bank 
robber, or the absconding 
cashier. ' He carried away so 
much BOODLE.' In elections 
the primaries have to be' fixed,' 
a great many men have to be 
' seen ' ; in short, the amount of 
money that it seems necessary 
in some cases to use to elect a 
few honest public servants is a 
thing to wonder at. And when 
these men are elected, it appears 
that they often lose the power 
of distinguishing between 
1 straight money ' and BOODLE. 
The word seems destined to 
take its permanent place in the 
language. See also BOODLERS. 

1884. Boston (Mass.) Globe, Oct. 7. 
'Sinews of war,' and 'living issues,' 
1 soap, 1 and other synonyms for cam- 
paign BOODLE are familiar. [M.] 

1888. Philadelphia Bulletin, 24 Feb. 
The best man in the world cannot make 
an honest living by being a City Council- 
man. The office is an unsalaried one, 
and any money that is made out of it is 
BOODLE. This is the new term for 
plunder, fraud and every form of stealing 
that can be practised by office-holders, 
who, in the practice, add the crime of 
perjury. It is an easy business for men 
of easy virtue. 

1888. Puck's Library, May, p. 3. 
In the evening, up the street, 

As you see him passing by, 

You're convinced his mind's replete 
With the legal science high ; 

That he ponders of divorce, 
Or, of BOODLE cases great ; 

That he spends all day, of course, 
Fighting counsel for the State. 

3. (American thieves'.) 
Amongst the thieving fraternity 
BOODLE is used to denote money 
that is actually spurious or 
counterfeit, and not merely 
money used for nefarious pur- 
poses, but which as currency is 
genuine enough. 

4. (American general.) 
Money. This is the latest sense 
imported into the word. The 
transition by which it has come 
to be synonymous with 'dust,' 
'pieces,' 'rhino,' 'oof,' etc., is 
an easy one. See ACTUAL. 

1888. Puck's Library, Jan., p. 4. 
Shakey, take a fader's plessing, 

Take it, for you ket it sheap ; 
Go in hot for making money, 

Go in for to make a heap. 
Don' you do no dings vot's grooked, 

Don' you do no dings vot's mean 
Aber rake right in dot BOODLE, 

Qviet, calm, and all serene. 


base coinage. See BOODLER. 

FAKE-BOODLE, subs. (Ameri- 
can thieves'). A roll of paper 
over which, after folding, a 
dollar bill is pasted, and another 
bill being loosely wrapped round 
this it looks as if the whole roll 
is made up of a large sum of 
money in bills. 

BOODLER, subs. (American politi- 
cal). i. One who bribes or cor- 
rupts. See BOODLE, sense 2. 

1888. Omaha World. A merican. ' As 
you are a native of Canada I suppose 
you think that country is all right, but 
for my part I should hate most awfully 
to be a subject of a queen.' Canadian. 
' The queen is a mere figure-head ; there 
is no difference at all between Canada 
and the United States.' ' Come to think, 
I believe you do have elections there.' 




' I should say we did. We have elec- 
tions and campaigns, and political parties, 
and bosses, and ringsters, and BOODLERS, 

and .' ' BOODLERS?' ' Plenty of 'em.' 

' Well, well ! Why, you are freemen 
just like us.' 

2. (American thieves'.) 
BOODLERS and shovers are the 
men who issue false money (see 
BOODLE, sense 3). Swindlers of 
this type generally hunt in 
couples; one carrying the bulk 
of the counterfeit money, and 
receiving the good change as 
obtained by his companion, who 
utters the BOODLE piece by 
piece. The game is generally 
worked so that at the slightest 
alarm the BOODLE CARRIER van- 
ishes and leaves nothing to 
criminate his confederate. 

BOOGET, subs, (old cant). A travel- 
ling tinker's basket. Quoted by 
Harman [1567] . 

BOOK, subs, (sporting). i. In bet- 
ting, more especially in connec- 
tion with horse racing, an ar- 
rangement of bets made against 
certain horses, and so calculated 
that the BOOKMAKER (q.v.) has 
a strong chance of winning 
something whatever the result. 

1836. DICKENS, Pickwick, I., p. 400. 
And Wilkins Flasher, Esquire, entered 
it (the bet) in a little BOOK with a gold 
pencil-case ; and the other gentleman 
entered it also, in another little BOOK 
with another gold pencil-case. 

1837. DISRAELI, Henrietta Temple, 
p. 260. Am I to be branded because I 
have made half a million by a good 

1852. F. E. SuEVLEY,LewisAtunclel, 
ch. liii. ' He has backed the Dodona 
colt for the Derby, and has got a heavier 
BOOK on the race than he likes.' 

1869. Gent. Mag., July, p. 231. He 
wins your money with a smile, will 
accommodate his BOOK to suit what bets 
you may choose to make. 

1879. JAS. PAYN, High Spirits 
(Change of Views). He had a knowledge, 

too, of practical mathematics, which 
enabled him to make a BOOK upon every 
great racing event of the year. 

1889. Pall Mall Gazette, Oct. 21, p. 6, 
col. i. Every sporting man is nattered 
if termed a sportsman, but it would be 
almost an insult to speak to a sportsman 
as a sporting man. Wherein does the 
distinction lie ? it may be asked. The 
one is a lover of sport for the sake of the 
thing itself. The other is a lover of it 
for what he can get out of the business. 
The former may bet, but he does not 
look at sport through the glasses of a 
BOOK ; the latter always bets, and in 
fact would not care about it at all if he 
could not take or give odds. 

2. (card-players'.) The first 
six tricks at whist. 

3. (general.) The copy of 
words to which music is set ; 
the words of a play ; formerly 
only applied to the libretto of 
an opera. 

1768. STERNE, Sentimental Journey, 
I., 180. A small pamphlet, it might be 
the BOOK of the opera. 

1889. Answers, 8 June, p. 24. The 
prompter had a little table on the 
'prompt' side; that is, the right-hand 
side looking from the house, and his 
' BOOK ' was one mass of directions, the 
margins being covered with little pic- 
tures and diagrams of the stage, showing 
the positions of the leading actors in 
every scene. 

(popular). To have made up 
one's mind ; to know what is 
best for one's interest. 

c. 1879. Broadside Ballad, 'Ain't 
you glad you didn't.' 
Ain't you glad sometimes to know, 

A second thought you took, 
About a subject upon which 

You thought you KNEW YOUR BOOK ; 
Now first of all you think you will, 

And then you think you won't, 
While someone says ' Go in and win ! ' 

And someone else says ' Don't.' 

(common). To suit one's 
arrangements. C/., BOOK, subs., 
sense i, the allusion being 
to betting books, in which bets 
are formally entered. 




1852. F. E. SMEDLEY, Lewis A rundd, 
ch. vi. 'By which time he expects to be 
so hard up that he must marry some- 
body, and as there will be plenty of the 
needful, she will SUIT HIS BOOK as well 
as any other. 

BOOKED, ppl. adj. (common). 
Caught ; fixed ; disposed of ; 
destined, etc. From the book- 
keeping term entered in a book, 
or registered. 

1840. HOOD, U{> the Rhine, p. 6. I 
am BOOKED for a much longer journey. 

1857. SNOWDEN, Mag. Assistant, 3 
cd., p. 446. BOOKED, caught, taken, or 
disposed of. 

1881. JAS. PAYN, Grape from a Thorn, 
ch. xxiii. ' I don't remember anyone 
having given me an " engaged ring " 
before ; and it's not leap year, neither. 
However, the lady's BOOKED, which is a 
great relief.' 

French thieves use etre planche 
for ' to be booked ' ; also etre 
mart (i.e., 'to be dead'); the 
adjective is rendered by faitre. 
and the person BOOKED is un 

BOOK-FORM, subs, (sporting). The 
relative powers of speed or 
endurance of race-horses as set 
down in the Racing Calendar or 

BOOKIE or BOOKY, siibs. (sporting). 
An abbreviated form of BOOK- 
MAKER (q.v.). 

1885. Eng. III. Mag., April, p. 509. 
No rowdy ring, but a few quiet and well- 
known BOOKIES, who were ready enough 
to lay the odds to a modest fiver. 

1889. Sporting Times, 29 June. 
He now had occasion to speedily hie 

To the BOOKIE who laid him the bet, 
Who was one of the small and particular 

That at times, when convenient, forget. 

BOOKMAKER, subs, (sporting). The 
English Encyclopedia says : 
In betting there are two parties 
one called 'layers,' as the 
BOOKMAKERS are termed, and 

the other 'backers,' in which 
class may be included owners of 
horses as well as the public. 
The backer takes the odds which 
the BOOKMAKER lays against a 
horse, the former speculating 
upon the success of the animal, 
the latter upon its defeat ; and 
taking the case of Cremorne 
for the Derby of 1872, just 
before the race, the BOOKMAKER 
would have laid 3 to i, or per- 
haps 1000 to 300 against 
him, by which transaction, if 
the horse won, as he did, the 
backer would win 1000 for 
risking ^300, and the BOOK- 
MAKER lose the 1000 which he 
risked to win the smaller sum. 
At first sight this may appear 
an act of very questionable 
policy on the part of the BOOK- 
MAKER ; but really it is not so, 
because so far from running a 
greater risk than the backer, he 
runs less, inasmuch as it is his 
plan to lay the same amount 
(1000) against every horse in 
the race, and as there can be 
but one winner, he would in all 
probability receive more than 
enough money from the many 
losers to pay the stated sum of 
1000 which the chances are 
he has laid against the one 
winner, whichever it is. See 
also BOOK, subs., sense i, and 

1862. London Review, Aug. 30, p. 188. 
Betting there seemed to be none . . . 
we could not perceive a single book or 


1880. W. DAY, Racehorscin Training, 
ch. xxiv., p. 245. BOOKMAKERS pursue a 
legitimate and lucrative trade by laying 
against all horses as they appear in the 

1883. HAWLEY SMART, Hard Lines, 
ch. iii. Finding . . . that the BOOK- 
MAKER whom for once they have landed 
for 'a thousand to thirty' is hopelessly 

Bookmaker's Pocket. 


BOOKMAKER'S POCKET, subs, (sport- 
ing). A breast-pocket made in- 
side the waistcoat, for notes of 
large amount. H often. See 

BOOKS, subs, (card-players'). i. 
A pack of cards. A term used 
mainly by professional card- 
players. Also called DEVIL'S 


OF BRIEFS. The French equiva- 
lent is im jnge de paix; while 
une cartoiichure a ponces is a 
prepared pack used by sharpers. 

1706. MRS. CENTLIVRE, Basset 
Table, IV., ii., wks. (1872) I., 245. 

L. Revel. Clean cards here. 

Mrs. Sago. Burn this BOOK, 't has 
an unlucky air [tears them]. Bring 
some mere BOOKS. 

2. (Winchester College.) (a.) 
The prizes formerly presented 
by Lord Say and Sele, now 
given by the governing body, to 
the ' Senior ' in each division at 
the end of ' Half.' (b.) The 
school is thus divided : SIXTH 
BOOK Senior and Junior 
Division ; the whole of the rest 
of the School is in FIFTH 
BOOK Senior Part, Middle 
Part, Junior Part, each part 
being divided into so many 
divisions, Senior, Middle and 
Junior, or Senior, 2nd, 3rd 
and Junior, as the case may re- 
quire. Formerly there was also 
' FOURTH BOOK,' but it ceased 
to exist about twenty-five years 

1876. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 104. The school 
was divided into three classes, or BOOKS, 
as they were called. Of these, the 
Praefects formed one, SIXTH BOOK; 
FIFTH BOOK was sub-divided into three 
parts, called respectively, ' Senior, 
Middle, and Junior part of the Fifth ' ; 
in speaking of them, the words, ' of the 
Fifth ' were generally omitted. The rest 
of the boys made up ' Fourth Book.' 

(c.) UP AT BOOKS. In class ; 
repeating lessons; now called 


1876. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 101. At each end 
of school are three tiers of benches 
rising gradually one above the other, 
that on the ground being called ' Senior 
Row,' and the others ' Middle,' and 
'Junior Row" respectively. On these 
the Classes sit when ' UP AT BOOKS,' i.e., 
when repeating lessons. 

plained by quotation. 

1876. MANSFIELD, School-Life at 
Winchester College, p. 103. On Reme- 
dies (a kind of whole holiday), we also 
went into School in the morning and 
afternoon for an hour or two without 
masters ; this was called BOOKS CHAM- 
BERS; and on Sundays, from four till a 
quarter to five. 

(e) To GET or MAKE BOOKS. 
To make the highest score at 
anything. Cf., BOOKS, sense 211. 

BOOKWORK, subs. (University). 
Mathematics that can be learned 
verbatim from books all that 
are not problems. 

BOOM. This word is a compara- 
tively recent production in its 
slang sense; and is variously 
used as a substantive or as a 
verb. Before particularizing its 
special usages, it may be in- 
teresting to note how, within a 
few years, it has made its ap- 
pearance in a variety of com- 
binations ; as, ' the whole State 
is BOOMING for Smith,' or ' the 
boys have whooped up the 
State to BOOM for Smith,' or 
' the Smith BOOM is ahead in 
this State,' etc., etc. Stocks 
and money are said to be 
BOOMING when active ; and any 
particular spot within a flourish- 
ing district is regarded as 
within the BOOM-BELT. A 
successful team or party is said 
to be a BOOMING SQUAD, and we 




even read of BOOMLETS to 
express progress of a lesser 
degree. [Its origin is largely a 
matter of conjecture, but the 
most probable derivation is 
from the nautical phrase ' boom- 
out,' signifying a vessel running 
rapidly before the wind ; but 
Murray points out that as 
various associations are prob- 
able, and as the actual use of 
the word has not been regulated 
by any distinct etymological 
feeling, it is not likely that any 
derivation will account for all 
its applications.] 

Subs. Commercial activity ; 
rapid advance in prices ; a 
flourishing state of affairs in 
all its applications it is 
synonymous with extreme 
vigour and effectiveness. The 
first quotation carries its use 
back a few years beyond the 
earliest date given in the New 
English Dictionary. 

1875. Scribner's Mag., July, p. 277. 
Another BOOM in prices is to be looked 

1883. Referee, May 6, p. 3, col. 2. 
'The Merry Duchess' is a big BOOM, 
and I understand that money is being 
turned away nightly. 

1883. M. TWAIN, Life on the Missis- 
sippi, ch. Ivii., p. 499. I lived here in 
1857 an extraordinary year there in 
real-estate matters. The BOOM was some- 
thing wonderful. Everybody bought, 
everybody sold . . . anything in the 
semblance of a town lot, no matter how 
situated, was saleable. 

1888. Boston Daily Globe. After the 
Sheridan reception, of course John Sher- 
man must come to Boston. The Ohio 
statesman knows where all the real live 
BOOMS start. If Mr. Elaine is wise he 
also will come to the ' Hub ' without 

1888. Missouri Republican, 16 Feb. 
'Jim, they say thar is a big BUM up at 
Rome.' 'What's that ?' said Jim. 'It's 
a kind of new tradin" business what 
swells and shrinks, and the sweller and 
shrinker stays down in a celler and 

works the machine. They trade in 
stock.' 'Horses and mules?' said Jim. 
' No, hit's all on paper, and nobody can 
see what he's buyin'. You put your 
money in and wait for a swell. If it 
comes you are all right, but if a shrink 
comes you are busted, and you feel so 
ashamed that you don't say anything 
about it, and it never gets into the papers 
nothing but the swells gits into the 

Verb, intr. To go off with a 
BOOM. See subs. To make rapid 
and vigorous progress ; to 
advance by leaps and bounds ; 
trans, to push ; to puff; to bring 
into prominence with a rush. 

1874. S. L. CLEMENS (' Mark 
Twain'), Gilded Age, ch. xxvii. There's 
200,000 dollars coming, and that will set 
things BOOMING again. 

1875. Scribner's^Iag., July, p. 272. 
Stocks may BOOM to-\ ay, but droop to- 
morrow, and with the crash come 
remorse and repentance. Ibid, p. 277. 
When stocks are active they are said to 

1884. M. TWAIN, Huckleberry Finn, 
xiii., 3. We BOOMED along down the 
river, watching for lights and watching 

for our raft. 

1888. Chicago Daily Inter-Ocean. 
The city of Paris is said to'be diminishing 
instead of increasing in population. 
They don't know how to BOOM a town 
over there. 

As already stated, BOOM 
enters into many combinations ; 


1888. New Orleans Picayune. A BOOM 
in North Carolina is not the kind of 
phenomenon to which we are accus- 
tomed here. Sales of land at from 2 
dols. to 10 dols. an acre in a BOOM BELT 
are not of record hereabout. 

1888. Chicago Herald. Ben Butter- 
worth, of Ohio, one of the mainstays of 
John Sherman's BOOMING SQUAD, has 
just had the title of boss Republican 
tariff debater conferred upon him by the 
culture of Boston. 

(nautical). To be off, or to 
start in a certain direction. 


294 Boon-Companionship. 

1871. G. MEREDITH, Harry Rich- 
mond, ch. xxxviii., p. 346 (1886). ' And 
now TOP YOUR BOOM, and to bed here.' 

BOOMER subs. (American). i. 
One who BOOMS or causes an 
enterprise to become flourish- 
ing, active or notorious. [From 

BOOM, 5tt 

1888. Times, Sept. 26, p. 8. [He] is 
a North-Western BOOMER of great 
earnestness. [M.] 

1885. Boston (Mass.) Journal, Aug. 
iq, p. 2, col. 4. The Oklahoma BOOMERS. 


2. Attributively applied to 
anybody or anything con- 
siderably above the average. 
Thus, what English people 
would call a bouncing lie, an 
American, if given to slang, 
would call a BOOMER ; so also 
a fine woman, a horse with extra 
good points, etc.; etc. 

BOOMERANG, subs. (American). 
Figuratively used to signify 
acts or words, the results of 
which recoil upon the person 
from whom they originate. The 
BOOMERANG is properly an 
Australian missile weapon 
which, when thrown, can be 
made to return to the 
thrower ; or which, likewise, 
can be caused to take an 
opposite * direction to that in 
which it is first thrown. 

1845. HOLMES, Modest Request, Poems 
(1884), 42. Like the strange weapon, 
which the Australian throws, Your ver- 
bal BOOMERANG slaps you on the nose. 


1870. LOWELL, A mong My Books, 
i S. (1873), 219. The BOOMERANG of 
argument, which one throws in the 
opposite direction of what he means to 
hit. [M.] 

BOOMING, ppl. adj. (American). 
Flourishing ; active ; in good 
form ; large ; astonishing. See 
BOOM and BOOMER in all senses. 

BOOM-PASSENGER, subs, (nautical). 
A sailor's slang term for a con- 
vict on board ship. Derived 
from the circumstance that 
prisoners on board convict ships 
were chained to, or were made 
to crawl along or stand on the 
booms for exercise or punish- 
ment. Hotten. 

BOON-COMPANION, subs. (collo- 
quial). A comrade in a drink- 
ing bout ; a good fellow. [BooN 
is evidently a corruption of the 
French bon.~\ 

1566. DRANT, Med. Morall, A. v. He 
is my BONE companion, it's he that 
cheares up me. [M.] 

1592. GREENE, Quip, in wks. XI., 220. 
To seeke good consortes and BOONE COM- 
PANIONS to passe away the day withall. 

1594. NASHE, Terrors of the Night, 
in wks. III., 228. Our Poets or BOONE 
COMPANIONS they are out of question. 

1600. W. KEMP, Nine Days' Wonder, 
in Arber's English Garner, vol. VII., 
p. 27. And coming to my inn, where the 
host was a very BOON COMPANION, I de- 
sired to see him. 

1712. ARBUTHNOT, History of John 
Bull, pt. I., ch. v. This was occasioned 
by his being a BOON COMPANION, loving 
his bottle and his diversion. 

1825. SCOTT, St. Ronan's Well, ch. 
xxiii. The morning after a debauch is 
usually one of reflection, even to the 
most customary BOON COMPANION. 

1827. LYTTON, Pelham, ch. Ixvii. 
We went downstairs to our dinner, as 
charmed with each other as BOON COM- 
PANIONS always should be. 

BOON-COMPANIONSHIP, subs, (collo- 
quial). Jollity ; conviviality. 

1592. NASHE, Strange Newes, in wks. 
II., 176. Thinke not, though vnder cor- 

I am disposd to be a little pleasant, I 
cpndemne you of anie immoderation, 
either in eating or drinking. 

1849. LYTTON, Caxtons, pt. XII., 
ch. iv. A little society, and BOON-COM- 
PANIONSHIP . . . would take Roland out 
of those gloomy reveries. 





BOOST, subs. (American). A hoist- 
ing ; a ' shove ' ; a ' lift ' ; a 
1 push up ' a New England 

1858. Dow, Sermons. Office seekers 
ask you to give them a BOOST into the 
tree of office. [M.] 

1866. T. A. RICHARDS, Rice Fields of 
the South. [A negro-preacher in South 
Carolina, loq.~\ ' For, my bredderen, little 
Zaccheus was bound to see the Lord for 
once, dough he had to climb up de tree 
to do it. And how did he get up der 
tree ? Ah, how did he get up der 
tree, my bredderen ? Did he wait for 
some lazy nigger to bring him a ladder ? 
Ah, no, my bredderen. Did he wait to 
be BOOSTED ? Ah, no, my bredderen. 
Not a BOOST ! He climbed right straight 
up der tree hisself, like de possum, by 
his own hands and feet and de grace of 

1888. Puck's Library, May, p. n. 
A genius took hold of the business, and 
gave it a little BOOST. He was a man of 
the times, and he applied his reasoning 
faculties to the problem presented to 
him. ' What,' he asked, ' is the chief 
means of success ? ' 

Verb. To hoist ; to lift up ; 
to shove. See subs. 

1848-64. J. R. LOWELL, Biglow 
Papers, II., 106. Whereas ole Abram 'd 
sink afore he'd let a darkie BOOST him. 

1872. S. L. CLEMENS (' Mark 
Twain'), Roughing It, ch. vii. You ought 
to have seen that spider-legged old 
skeleton go ! and you ought to have seen 
the bull cut out after him, top head down, 
tongue out, tail up, bellowing like every- 
thing, and actually mowing down the 
weeds, and tearing up the earth, and 
BOOSTING up the sand like a whirl- 
wind ! 

1884. Harper's Magazine, Aug., p. 
481, col. i. To BOOST a jurist of so much 
helpless avoirdupois in through the 
carriage door. 


BOOT, verb (military). To beat; 
to punish with a strap. The 

punishment is irregular and 
unconventional, being inflicted 
by soldiers on a comrade dis- 
covered guilty of some serious 
breach of the unwritten law of 
comradeship, such as theft, etc. 
The beating was formerly in- 
flicted with a bootjack hence 
the name. 

BOOTH, subs, (thieves'). A house ; 
'to heave a BOOTH,' i e., 'to 
rob a house.' 

BOOTH-BURSTER, subs, (theatrical). 
A loud and noisy actor. A 
variant of BARN-STORMER (q.v.). 

BOOTING, subs, (military). A pun- 
ishment administered with a 
strap. Cf., COLTING. 

BOOT-JOE, subs, (military). Mus- 
ketry drill. 



BOOTLICK, subs. (American). A 
flunkey ; hanger-on ; or doer of 
dirty work. [In England such 
a one is called a ' bootlicker,' of 
which BOOTLICK is probably an 
abbreviated form.] 

Verb. To toady ; to hang 
on ; to undertake ' dirty ' work. 

BOOTS, subs, (colloquial). i. The 
servant at hotels and places of 
a kindred character who cleans 
the boots of visitors. Formerly 
called boot-catchers, because in 
the old riding and coaching days 
part of their duty was to divest 
travellers of their footgear. 

2. (military.) The youngest 
officer in a regimental mess. 

BRICKS BLAZES, etc. ,phr. (com- 

Boots and Leathers. 


mon). Thoroughly ; vigorously. 
A simile as general in its appli- 
cation as it is irrelevant. It 
may mean anything, everything, 
and nothing. Why old boots 
and not new boots is beyond 

1868. Miss BRADDON.SJV Jasper, ch. 
xxvii., p. 282. I'll stick to you LIKE OLD 


1874. Saturday Review, Jan., p. 55. 
An Oxford man, nay even a Balliol man 
. . . introduced in the story a pleasing 
change by such a phrase as jawing away 


(old). To marry or keep the 
cast-off mistress of another man. 

To DIE IN ONE'S BOOTS (q.v.). 


BOOTY. To PLAY BOOTY ,phr. (old). 
To play falsely ; dishonestly ; 
or unfairly ; this with the ob- 
ject of not winning, a previous 
arrangement having been made 
with a confederate to share the 
spoils resulting from the bogus 
play. Sometimes it takes the 
form of permitting the victim to 
win small stakes in order to 
encourage him to hazard larger 
sums which, naturally, he is not 
allowed to win. See quotation 
from Dyche. 

1575. Frat. of Vacabondcs, p. 13. 
They wil make as much as they can, 
and consent as though they wil PLAY 
BOOTY againt him. 

1608. DEKKER, Belman of London, 
in wks. (Grosart) III., 133. They . . . 
haue still an eare how the layes [bets] 
are made, and according to that leuell 
doe they throw their bowles, so that 
be sure the bowlers PLAY BOOTY. 

1742. FIELDING, Joseph Andrews, 
bk. I., ch. ii. The best gamesters, before 
they laid their money, always inquired 
which horse little Joey was to ride ; 
and the bets were rather proportioned 

by the rider than by the horse himself; 
especially after he had scornfully refused 
a considerable bribe to PLAY BOOTY on 
such an occasion. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOOTY (s.), plunder, spoil, prize ; also a 
cant word signifying a pretence to one 
thing, and at the same time intends 
and does the contrary, in order to 
cheat, impose upon, and draw in a 
person to lay wagers, play at some 
game, etc. 

1776. COLMAN, The Spleen, in wks. 
(1777) IV., 276. Jubilee started and 
stumbled but, by-the-bye, I believe his 
rider PLAYED BOOTY Duenna won the 
stakes, and the knowing ones were all 
taken in. 

1817. SCOTT, Rob Roy, ch. vii. 
' Were he caught PLAYING BOOTY, he 
would be disarmed, and probably dis- 

1831. DISRAELI, Young Duke. One 
thing remained to be lost what he called 
his honour, which was already on the 
scent to PLAY BOOTY. 

So also BOOTY = playing 
sharer in the plunder. 

BOOZE, subs. ( popular ) . i. 
Drink ; a draught. The older 
forms are BOUSE or BOUZE (q.v.), 
but BOOZE in its present form 
appears as early as 1714. For 
synonyms, see DRINKS. 

1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. ii. BOOZE, Drink. [List of cant 

1821. W. T. MONCRIEFK, Tom and 
Jerry, Act ii., Sc. 6. Jemmy. Gemmen, 
have you ordered the peck and BOOZE 
for the evening? Sold. Sttkc. Aye, aye, 
I've taken care of that shoulder of veal 
and garnish Turkey and appendleges 
Parmesan Filberds Port and Madery. 

1889. Sporting Times, 6 July. Kid. 
The Music Hall Sports are at Alexandra 
Park on the 23rd, and there will be rare 
doings on that occasion. Master and 
Shifter both give prizes, and there will 
be BOOZE in our drag. 

2. A drinking bout ; a tipsy 
frolic. Murray's first quote for 
this form and sense is dated 
1864 ; but, from the following, 

Booze. 2 97 Boozing-Ken. 

it will be seen to be at least 
thirty years older. For syno- 
nyms, see JAMBOREE. 

1834. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, 
bk. III., ch. v. 'We'll have a jolly 
BOOSE when all's over.' 

1884. St. James's Gazette, 19 Dec., 
p. 4, col. i. There was a great BOOZE 
on board. 

Verb (common). To drink 
heavily ; to tipple ; to guzzle. 
An old term employed in some 
sense of ' to drink ' as early as 
1300. Also BOOZE (q.v.). For 
synonyms, see SWILL. 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1814), p. 5. 
The buriall was tourned to BOUSING and 
belly cheere. 

1592. NASHE, Pierce Penilcssc, in 
wks. II., 91. They should haue all the 
companie that resort to them, byeBOWZ- 
ING and beere-bathing in their BOUSES 
every after-noone. 

1777. COLMAN, Epilogue to Sheridan's 
School for Scandal. While good Sir Peter 
BOOZES with the squire. 

1853. THACKERAY, Barry Lyndon, 
ch. xiii., p. 173. ' I wonder, Sir Charles 
Lyndon, a gentleman who has been the 
King's ambassador, can demean himself 
by gambling and BOOZING with low Irish 
black-legs ! ' 

So also BOOZED (ppl. adj.), 
drunk, fuddled; BOOZY (adj.), 
drunken, ' screwed ' ; BOOZING 
(verbal subs.), the act of drinking 
hard; and BOOZER (subs.), a 
drunkard, a tippler examples 
of which respectively will be 
found hereunder in sections. 

b, 1529. SKELTON, Elvnoor Roininin, 
in Hart. Misc. (ed. Park), I., 416. 
Droupy and drowsie, 
Scurvy and lousie 
Her face all BOWSIE. 
1592. GREENE, Quip, in wks. XI., 
353. To marke the BOWSIE drunkard to 
dye of the dropsy. 

1611. COTGRAVE, Piailleur: m . . . 
a tipler, BOWSER. 

1616. JoflsoN, Devil's an Ass, V., 
4. And in the meantime, to be greasy, 
and BOUZV. 

1671. R. HEAD, English Rogue, pt. 
I., ch. iv., p. 36 (1874). Most part of the 
night we spent in BOOZING, pecking 
i umly . . . that is drinking, eating. 

1693. DRYDEN, Juvenal, x., 288. 
Which in his cups the BOWSY poet 

1705. WARD, Hudibras Rcdivivus, 
vol. II.,pt. IV., p. 14. Amongst a Crowd 
of Sots, half BOOZY. 

c. 1819. WOLCOT, P. Pindar, p. 303, 
ed. 1830. 

This landlord was a BOOZER stout, 
A snuff-taker and smoker. [D.] 

1848. THACKERAY, Book of Snobs, ch. 
xxiii. The BOOZY unshorn wretch is seen 
hovering round quays as packets arrive, 
and tippling drams in inn bars where he 
gets credit. 

1848. THACKERAY, Book of Snobs, 
ch. xxxiii. The quantity of brandy-and- 
water that Jack took showed what a 
regular BOOZER he was. 

1850. P. CROOK, War of Hats, 50. 
BOOZED in their tavern dens, The scurril 
press drove all their dirty pens. 

1866. G. ELIOT, Felix Holt, ch. xi. 
' Till they can show there's something 
they love better than swilling themselves 
with ale, entension of the suffrage can 
never mean anything for them but 
entension of BOOZING.' 

1889. Ally Slopcr's Half Holiday, 
Aug. 24, p. 267, col. 2. 
In Canton gardens I have BOOZED ; 
Beneath the palm-trees I have snoozed ; 
I've seen the alligator smile. 
And peppered at the crocodile. 

BOOZING CHEAT, subs, (thieves'). 
A bottle. [From BOOZE (q.v.), 
drink, + CHEAT, from A.S. ceat, 
a thing.] 

BOOZING-KEN, subs. (old). A 
drinking den. [From BOOZE 
(q.v.), drink, + KEN, a place.] 
A term of long standing. A 
French equivalent is une bibine, 
but for general synonyms, 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat (1814), p. 65. 
A BOWSING-KEN, a ale house. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 37 (H. Club's Repr., 1874). BOWSING- 
KEN, an Ale-house. 




1622. FLETCHER, Beggar's Bush, 
II., i. 
When last in conference at the BOOZING- 


This other day we sat about our dead 


1714. Memoirs of John Hall (4 ed.), 
p. ii. BOOZING-KEN, an Ale-house. 
[List of cant words in.] 

1834. H. AINSWORTH, Rookwood, 
bk. III., ch. v. The hovel which they 
termed their BOOZING-KEN. 

BOOZINGTON, subs. (Australian 
thieves'). A drunkard. [Ap- 
parently a formation from 
BOOZE (q.v.), to drink, on the 
model of LUSHINGTON (q.v.), 
an English equivalent.] For 
synonyms, see ELBOW CROCKER. 

BORACHIO.SW&S. (old). A nickname 
for a drunkard ; formerly a 
skin for holding wine. For 
synonyms, see ELBOW CROOKER. 

phr. (colonial). To pour ficti- 
tious news into credulous ears ; 
to 'stuff' ; to ' kid.' 

1587. Notes and Queries, 7 S., iii., 
476. POKE BORAK, applied in Colonial 
conversation to the operations of a per- 
son who pours fictitious information into 
the ears of a credulous listener. 

BORD, BORDE, BOORDE, Subs, (old 

cant). A shilling. The origin 
is unknown. For synonyms, see 

1567. HARMAN, Caveat, p. 85. ROGE, 
but bouse there a BORD, i.e., but drink 
there a shilling. 

1610. ROWLANDS, Martin Mark-all, 
p. 37 (H. Club's Repr., 1874). BOORD, a 
shilling ; Halfe a BOORD, sixepence. 

1611. DEKKER, Roaring Girle, wks. 
(1873) III., 219. My Lord Noland . . . 
bestowes vpon you two, two BOORDES 
and a half. 

1671. R. HEAD, English RogTte, pt. 
I., ch. v., p. 47 (1874). BORDE, a shilling. 

1785. GROSE, Dictionary of the Vul- 
gar Tongue. [The same definition.] 

BORDEAUX, subs. (pugilistic). 
Blood [an allusion to the colour 
of the wine. Cf , CLARET and 
BADMINTON]. For synonyms, 
see CLARET. 

BORD You ! phr. (nautical). An 
expression used to claim the 
next turn in drinking. 

BORE, subs, and verb (old slang, 
but now recognised). Anybody 
or anything wearisome or 
annoying ; to weary or to be 
wearied. [The derivation is 
unknown, and the word does 
not appear in English literature 
prior to 1750. Hotten's refer- 
ence to Shakspeare, King 
Henry VIII., i., i, 

At this instant 
He BORES me with some trick, 

is a misreading, ' bore ' in this 
instance signifying ' to stab,' as 
the context clearly shows.] 

Verb (sporting). To push or 
thrust out of the course ; and 
BORING, subs., the practice of 
' boring.' Amongst pugilists it 
signifies to drive an opponent 
on to the ropes of the ring by 
sheer weight, whilst amongst 
rowing men it denotes the 
action of a coxswain in so 
steering a boat as to force his 
opponent into the shore, or into 
still water, thus obtaining an 
unfair advantage; also analo- 
gously applied to horse-racing. 
The term, as so used, is a very 
old one, and is derived from the 
persistency of motion of a boring 
1672. VANBRUGH, Lover's Quarrels, 

317 in Hazl. E.P., pt. II., 266. He BOR'D 

him out of the saddle fair. 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 

to Congress. M rl y, that very great 

Born Days. 



Count, stood deploring, He hadn't taught 
Gecrgy his new modes of BORING. 

1821. The Fancy, vol. I., p. 255. 
Evans BORED in, and upset his man in 
the first round. 

1870. DICKENS, Edwin Drood, ch. 
xvii., p. 129. Their fighting code stood 
in great need of revision, as empowering 
them not only to BORE their man to the 
ropes, but . . . also to hit him when he 
was down. 

DAYS, phr. (colloquial). One's 

1740. RICHARDSON, Pamela, III., 
383. He never was so delighted in his 


1753. RICHARDSON, Grandison, I., 
103. There was one Miss Byron, a 
Northamptonshire lady, whom I never 
saw before in my BORN DAYS. 

1809. Miss EDGEWORTH, Ennui, ch. 
ix. Craiglethorpe will know just as 
much of the lower Irish as the Cock- 
ney who has never been out of London, 
and who has never in all his BORN DAYS 
seen an Irishman but on the English 

BORN WEAK, phr. (nautical). Said 
of a vessel feebly built. CLARK 
RUSSELL'S Sailors' Language. 

BOSH, subs, (common). Non- 
sense ; rubbish ; ' stuff ' ; ' rot ' 
anything beneath contempt. 
[The derivation is uncertain. 
Murray says the word became 
current in England from its 
frequent occurrence in Morier's 
Persian novels, Ayesha [1834], 
etc., most of them extremely 
popular productions. Its source 
has been suggested in the Turk- 
ish bosh lakerdi, ' empty talk ' ; 
in the German bosh or bossch, 
an equivalent of ' swipes ' ; and 
in the Gypsy bosh, 'a noise,' a 
fiddle,' from which latter it has 
been thought that there may 
be some connection between the 
exclamation BOSH ! and FIDDLE- 
DE-DEE (q.v.).'] 

1834. MORIER, Ayesha, L, 219. This 
firman is BOSH nothing. [M.] 

1857. C. KINGSLEY, Two Years Ago, 
ch. x. I always like to read old Darwin's 
Loves of the Plants, BOSH as it is in a 
scientific point of view. 

1880. Punch, 10 Jan., p. 9, col. 2. 
'Prophet,' said I, 'of things evil!' 
' Things are going to the devil ' Is the 
formula of fogies, I have heard that 
BOSH before. 

Verb. To humbug ; to spoil ; 
to mar. 

1870. Macmillan's Magazine, XXL, 
71. You BOSH his joke [a man's] by 
refusing to laugh at it ; you BOSH his 
chance of sleep by playing on the cornet 
all night in the room next to him. [M.] 

1883. Miss BRADDON, Golden Calf, 
ch. xiv. ' And wouldn't he make a jolly 
schoolmaster ? ' exclaimed Reginald. 
' Boys would get on capitally with Jar- 
dine. They'd never try to BOSH him.' 

Intj. Nonsense ! Rubbish ! 
It's all my eye ! See ALL MY 

1852. DICKENS, Bleak House, ch. 
xxi. BOSH ! It's all correct. 

1889. Pall Mall Gazette, October 30, 
p. 3, col. i. 'You always learn in front 
of the looking-glass, do you not, Mr. 
Brandram? ' 'Bosn !' was the laughing 
reply. ' I generally learn my plays and 
recitations whilst I am dressing ; but 
you don't think I deliberately stand and 
make monkey-faces in the looking-glass. 

BOSH FAKER, subs, (vagrants'). A 
violin player. [From Gypsy 
bosh, a violin, + FAKER, a per- 
former or player.] 

1876. HINDLEY, Life and Adventures 
of a Cheap Jack, p. 231. 

Can you rocker Romanic 

Can you patter flash, 

Can you rocker Romanic 

Can you FAKE A BOSH. 

BOSHING, subs. (American thieves'). 
A flogging. [Apparently a 
corrupted form of BASHING.] 
See BASH. 

Bo shy. 



BOSHY, adj. (common). Trum- 
pery ; nonsensical. See BOSH. 

1882. F. ANSTEY, Vice Versa, ch. 
iv. ' There was no dancing, only BOSHY 
games and a conjuror.' 

Bos -KEN, subs, (vagrants'). A 

farmhouse. An old canting 

term. [From L. 60s = ox + KEN, 

a house.] Cf., KEN. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 

and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 472. ' Up at a 

BOSKEN (farm-house) they'll get among 

the servant girls.' 

BOSKINESS, subs, (popular). The 

quality of being fuddled with 

drink ; bemused ; a state of 


1887. Judy, 31 August, p. 101. The 

Town Councillor had a squabble with 

his parent . . . and accused him of 


BOSKY, adj. (popular). Drunk; 
tipsy ; fuddled. [Derivation un- 
certain ; BOSKY = ' wooded,' or 
' bushy,' and there may be an 
allusion to the obscurity and 
overshadowing, peculiar to a 
wooded country. Bailey [1728] 
has also BOSKY = swelled, but 
does not give the slang sense of 
the word, although it appears 
in the editions 1730-6. It may, 
therefore, be a figuratively 
humorous reading of ' swelled,' 
i.e., 'tight.'] For synonyms, 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOSKY (A.), fuddled, half or quite drunk. 

1824. Blackw. Mag., XVI., 573. He 
may be tipsy, BOSKY, cut, or anything but 

1886. Punch, 17 April, p. 185. I got 
a bit BOSKY last night. Has the 'eadache 
got into my rhymes? 

BOSNIAN, subs, (vagrants'). A 
farmer. [ From the Dutch 
bosch-man, one who lives in 
the woods; otherwise Bosclije- 
man, or bushman.] Cf., BOSKEN. 

1851-61. H. MAYHEW, London Lab. 
and Lon. Poor, vol. I., p. 471. / I've seen 
the swell BOSMEN (farmers) buy the pills 
to give the people standing about." 

Boss, subs. (American and Eng- 
lish). i. A master; a head 
man ; one who directs. [From 
the Dutch baas, a master.] 
Few words have acquired a 
greater hold on American life 
than this term, and the primitive 
meaning of master, overseer, 
or superior of any kind, though 
in a large measure retained to 
this day, has been widened out 
in every direction. The political 
BOSS is the leader whose word 
is law to his henchman. Boss 
Tweed, of New York, is believed 
to have been the first to bear 
the title in a semi-official way. 
The phrase BOSS RULE is said 
to have been invented by Mr. 
Wayne MacVeagh, and em- 
ployed by him in political 
speeches in Chicago. It is 
now in common use in this 
sense. In the two first quota- 
tions the word appears to be 
used much as in the modern 
sense. For synonyms, see 

1590. MARLOWE, Tamburlaine, pt. I., 
Act iii., Sc. 3. Zab. Base concubine, 
must thou be placed by me, That am the 
empress of the mighty Turk ? Zen. Dis- 
dainful Turkess and unreverend BOSS! 

1679. M. PHILIPSE, Early Voyage to 
New Netherlands (quoted by De Vere). 
Here they had their first interview with 
the female BOSS or supercargo of the 

1848. BARTLETT, Americanisms. I 
have never known a second wife but 
what was BOSS of the situation. 

1850. New York Herald, May 24. 
The Eternal City is in a very curious 
position. The Pope has returned to his 
ancestral home; but he has nothing in 
his pocket, and Rothschild refuses to let 
him have any more money. A thousand 
years ago, and the boot would have been 
on t'other leg. . . . To-day it is very 


301 Bot, Bott, Botts. 

different. The Father of Holiness is the 
dependent of the Jew, and Rothschild is 
the real Pope and BOSS of all Europe. 

1888. New York Herald, Jan. 12. 
Alderman Campbell I move an amend- 
ment to make Hamline the general 
superintendent and chief BOSS of this 
whole gas business. 

2. (popular.) A short-sighted 
person ; also one who squints. 
Cf., BOSS-EYED and Boss, verb, 
sense 2. 

3. (popular.) A miss; a 
blunder. Cf., Boss, verb, sense 2. 

Adj. Pleasant ; first rate ; 

1884. Echo, March 3, p. i, col. 4. 
The Americans are acknowledged to be 
the BOSS artificers in wood. 

1888. Brooklyn Daily Eagle, March 
18. Take it all together, with scarcity of 
food and little sleep, we had a hard but 
a BOSS time. 

Verb. i. To manage ; direct ; 
control. See subs., sense i. 

1856. National Intelligencer, Nov. 3. 
The little fellow that BOSSES it over the 

1872. A thtnaum, March 9. A child 
wishing to charge his sister with being 
the aggressor in a quarrel for which he 
was punished, exclaimed, ' I did not BOSS 
the job ; it was sister.' 

1883. Saturday Review, April 28, p. 
515, col. i. It is long since the more 
respectable inhabitants of America have 
been divided between the convenience 
of the Irish as hewers of wood and 
drawers of water, and as voters easily 
BOSSED or bribed on the one hand, and 
the manifold nuisance of them on the 

1885. Sporting Times, July 6. The 
Shah has fairly BOSSED everything this 
week he has been chief actor in our 
social system. 

1888. Texas Siftings, July. 
When lovely woman hires a servant 

And BOSSES her around all day, 
What makes the girl pray half so fervent 

As her desire to run away. 

2. (popular.) To miss one's 
aim ; to make such a shot as a 
BOSS-EYED (q.v.) person would 
be expected to make. BOSS- 
SHOT is a common phrase. 

1887. N. and Q., 7 S., iii., 236. To 
BOSS is schoolboy slang for ' to miss.' 

So also derivatives BOSSING, 
acting as a boss ; BOSSISM, a 
system of management or wire- 
pulling ; BOSSY, pertaining to 
the qualities of a leader. 

BOSSERS, subs, (common). Spec- 
tacles. See BARNACLES. 

Boss- EYED, adj. (common). Said 
of a person with one eye, or 
rather with one eye injured ; a 
person with an obliquity of 
vision. In this sense sometimes 
varied by SQUINNY-EYED and 
SWIVEL-EYED (q.v.). Also used 
as a subs. BOSS-EYE. 

c. 1884. Broadside Ballad, ' Put me 
some Jam Roll by, Jenny.' 
Come where the waves roll high, Jenny, 

Come where the waves roll high, 
Jenny, old girl, I love you, 

Come where the waves roll high. 
Come where the waves roll high, Jenny, 

Come where the sea-sick lie, 
Come where we eat salt-junk, love, 

Come with your old BOS-EYE. 

niat ; cligner dcs ccillets (a military 
term, ' to be boss-eyed ') ; hotter 
des calots (' to be boss-eyed ' ) ; 

BOSTRUCHYZER, subs. (Oxford Uni- 
versity). A small kind of comb 
for curling the whiskers. 
Hotten. Obsolete. 

BOT, BOTT, BOTTS, subs, (common). 
The colic; belly-ache ; gripes. 
Properly a name given to mag- 
gots found in the intestines of 
horses, under the hides of oxen, 
and in the nostrils of sheep. A 
French equivalent is la tourmente, 
i.e., ' the torment.' 

1787. BURNS, Death and Dr. 
Hornbook, st. 27. 

A countra Laird had ta'en the BATTS, 
Or some curmurring in his guts. 

Botanical Excursion. 32 


1816. SCOTT, Old Mortality, ch. viii. 
1 1 ne'er gat ony gude by his doctrine, as 
ye ca't, but a sour fit o' the BATTS wi' 
sitting amang the wet moss-hays for four 
hours at a yoking. 


A thief's circumlocution 

for transportation the allusion 
being to BOTANY BAY (q.v.). 

BOTANY BAY, subs. (University). 
i. At Oxford, Worcester Col- 
lege is so designated on account 
of its remote situation as re- 
gards the bulk of the collegiate 
buildings. It will be seen that 
a similar reason has caused a 
certain portion of Trinity Col- 
lege, Dublin, to receive an 
identical nickname. The general 
idea underlying the term is 
obviously that to get to the 
places in question one has 
figuratively to go almost as far 
as if transported to the real 
BOTANY BAY, formerly a con- 
vict settlement in New South 

1841. LEVER, Charles O'Malley, ch. 
xx., note. BOTANY BAY was the slang 
name given by college men to a new 
square rather remotely situated from the 
remainder of the college [i.e., Trinity, 
Dublin] . 

1853. REV. E. BRADLEY (' Cuthbert 
Bede'), Adventures of Verdant Green, I., 
p. 63. A name given to W. College, 
from its being the most distant college. 

2. (thieves' and prison.) 
Penal servitude. Formerly 
convicts [1787-1867] were trans- 
ported to BOTANY BAY, a con- 
vict settlement at the Antipodes. 
Hence to go to BOTANY BAY 
was in popular use for a long 
term of imprisonment. 

BOTANY-BAY FEVER, subs. (old). 
Transportation ; penal servitude. 
Convicts condemned to trans- 
portation were said to have 

died of, or to have BOTANY-BAY 
for hanging. 

BOTCH, subs. (old). A tailor. [An 
abbreviated form of ' botcher, 1 
which has been used for a very 
long period in all the following 
senses a cobbler, tailor who 
does repairs, jobber, and an un- 
skilful workman.] Also called 
a SNIP, which see for synonyms. 

phr. (sporting). Not to turn out 
well ; to fail. 

BOTTLE-ACHE, subs, (common). 
Drunkenness ; also applied to 
an attack of delirium tremens. 
[From BOTTLE, in allusion to 
drink causing indisposition, + 
ACHE, a pain or sickness.] There 
are many curious terms for this 
effect of intemperance, such as 
Jim-jams, barrel - fever, quart- 
mania ; but for full list of syno- 

BOTTLE-ARSED, adj. phr. (printers'). 
Type thicker at one end than 
the other a result of wear and 

BOTTLE-HOLDER, subs, (common). 
i. A second at a prize-fight, 

2. One who gives moral 
support ; a backer ; an adviser. 
In the Times of 1851, Lord 
Palmerston was reported to 
consider himself the BOTTLE- 
HOLDER of oppressed states : 
and in Punch of the same year, 
a cartoon appeared representing 
that statesman as the ' judicious 


1753. SMOLLETT, Ct. Fathom (L.). 
An old bruiser makes a good BOTTLE- 

Bottle-Holding. 303 


1816. SCOTT, Antiquary, ch. xxxix. 
Petrie . . . recommends, upon his own 
experience, as tutor in a family of dis- 
tinction, this attitude to all led captains, 
tutors, dependents, and BOTTLE-HOLDERS 
of every description. 

1822. SCOTT, The Fortunes of Nigel, 
ch. ii. Cold water, and a little vinegar, 
applied according to the scientific method 
practised by the BOTTLE-HOLDERS in a 
modern ring. 

1860. THACKERAY, Philip, ch. xl. 
' Do you remember his tremendous fight 
with Biggs ? ' ' Remember ? who didn't ? 
Marston was Berry's BOTTLE-HOLDER.' 

BOTTLE-HOLDING, verbal subs, (com- 
mon). Backing; supporting. 

1878-80. JUSTIN MACCARTHY, His- 
tory of Our Own Times, II., p. 115. The 
noble lord (Palmerston) told the deputa- 
tion that the past crisis was one which 
required on the part of the British 
Government much generalship and judg- 
ment, and that a good deal of judicious 
BOTTLE-HOLDING was obliged to be 
brought into play. 


phr. (common). A glass of 
beer ; a recent and absurd slang 

BOTTLE OF SPRUCE, subs, (rhyming 
slang). Twopence. The play of 
words is upon ' deuce ' two. 

BOTTLES, subs. (Stock Exchange). 
Barrett's Brewery and Bott- 
ling Co. Shares, 

BOTTLE-SUCKER, subs, (nautical). 
An able-bodied seaman ; the 
abbreviation is A.B.S., and A 


be a humorous rendering. 

BOTTLE-UP, verb (old). To restrain 
(temper, feelings, etc.) ; to keep 
or hold back. 

1622. T. Scott, Belg. Pismire, 53. 
Vapours . . . BOTTELED UP in cloudes. 

1863. H. KINGSLEY, Austin Elliot, 
ch. xi. Austin played very bad, trumped 

his partner's . . . knave, led out strong 
suits of trumps without any suit to 
follow, BOTTLED them when his partner 
led them first time round. 

1871. Cincinnati Commercial, April, 
p. 637. He will BOTTLE UP his wrath, 
having had some experience in the line 
of BOTTLING UP during the war, and pour 
out his vials upon General Farnsworth's 
head, whenever the occasion offers. 

BOTTOM, subs, (colloquial). i. 
The posteriors ; not now in 
literary use. For synonyms, 

1794-6. E. DARWIN, Zoon. (1801), III., 
253. So as to have his head and shoulders 
much lower than his BOTTOM. 

1822-36. J. WILSON, Nodes. Ambr., 
xxxix. (1864), iv., 79. The Dunghill cock 
. . . hides his head in a hole . . . un- 
ashamed of the exposure of his enormous 

1837. CARLYLE, Fr. Rev., II., iv., i., 
185. Patriot women take their hazel 
wands, and fustigate . . . broad BOTTOM 
of priests. 

2. (popular.) Capital ; re- 
sources ; stamina ; ' grit.' 

1662. FULLER, Worthies (1840), II., 
451. Beginning on a good BOTTOM left 
him by his father. 

1747. CAPTN. GODFREY, Science of 
Defence, p. 54. I have mentioned strength 
and art as the two ingredients of a boxer. 
But there is another, which is vastly 
necessary ; that is, what we call a BOT- 
TOM. . . . There are two things required 
to make this BOTTOM, that is, wind and 
spirit, or heart, or wherever you can fix 
the residence of courage. 

1819. MOORE, Tom Crib's Memorial 
to Congress, pref., p. xv. The peculiarities 
of this boxer discussed his power of 
standing with his arms extended for two 
whole days, without any rest, by which 
means he wore out his adversaries' 
BOTTOM, and conquered without either 
giving or taking. 

1846. THACKERAY, V. Fair, vol. II., 
ch. xiv. He did not like to dine with 
Steyne now. They had run races of 
pleasure together in youth when Bare- 
acres was the winner. But Steyne had 
more BOTTOM than he, and had lasted 
him out. 

3. (popular.) Spirit placed 
in a glass prior to the addition 

Bottom Dollar. 



of water. [From BOTTOM, the 
lowest surface or part of any- 
thing, the foundation, the basis. 
See peculiar American usage in 
1883 quot] Also used as a 

1854. SIR THEO. MARTIN, Bon 
Gaiiltier Ballads. BOTTOMED well with 

1857. A. TROLLOPE, Three Clerks, 
ch. xxxi. Gin and water was the or- 
dinary tipple in the front parlour ; and 
any one of its denizens inclined to cut 
a dash above his neighbours, generally 
did so with a BOTTOM of brandy. 

1883. Daily Telegraph, 2 July, p. 5, 
col. 3. Soda and DARK BOTTOM is men- 
tioned in a list of American drinks in 
this article. 


OF ONE, pJir. (American). To 
overcome ; to defeat, etc. 

1888. Clevdam( Leader. The de- 
clination of Mr. Elaine, has knocked the 
BOTTOM out of Mugwumpery. 

BOTTOM DOLLAR, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can). The last dollar. The 
phrase ' to bet one's BOTTOM 
DOLLAR ' is frequently heard. 

BOTTOM FACTS, subs. phr. (Ameri- 
can). The exact truth about 
any matter. To 'get to the 
BOTTOM FACTS ' concerning a 
subject, is to arrive at an un- 
questionable conclusion con- 
cerning it ; or, as is said in 
England, to get to the root of 
the question. 

1877. S. L. CLEMENS (' Mark Twain '), 
Life^ on the Mississippi, p. 393. You take a 
family able to emba'm, and you've got a 
soft thing. You can mention sixteen 
different ways to do it though there 
aint only one or two ways when you 
come down to the BOTTOM FACTS of it 
and they'll take the highest priced way 
every time. It's human nature human 
nature in grief. 

The phrase is also varied by 


1888. Omaha World. BOTTOM ROCK. 
Conductor (on California train some 
years hence) ' All out for Pitholeville.' 
Real Estate Agent (entering car) 
' Orange groves and apple orchards, two 
for a penny." 

BOTTOMLESS PIT, subs, (old slang). 
A coarse and vulgar name for 
the female pudenda. For syno- 
nyms, see MONOSYLLABLE. 

BoTTf.subs. (popular). An infant's 
posteriors ; the French say tu tu. 

Adj. (popular). Conceited; 
swaggering. To LOOK BOTTY is 
in French, faire sa mcrdf ; fain 
son matador. 

BOUGH, subs. (old). The gallows. 
TREE (<?.r.) is used in a similar 

1590. SWINBURN, Testaments, 53. Or 
in Kent in Gauelkind . . . for there it is 
said, the father to the BOUGHE, and the 
son to the ploughe. [M.] 

1596. SPENSER, State Ird., wks. 
(1862), p. 553, col. 2. Some . . . have 
beene for their goods sake caught up, 
and carryed straight to the BOUGH. 

1870. MORRIS, Earthly Par., III., 
iv., 77. If she doom thee to the BOUGH. 

(old). In a passion. Quoted 
by Grose. 

BOUNCE, subs, (common). Brag; 
swagger ; boastful falsehood and 

1714. STEELE, Lover (1723), 93. This 
is supposed to be only a BOUNCE. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOUNCE (s.) . . . also the huff, brag, or 
swaggering of a bully or great pretender. 

1765. GOLDSMITH, Haunch of Veni- 
son, 1. 14. But hold let me pause 
don't I hear you pronounce this tale of 
the bacon a damnable BOUNCE ? 

Coventry, ch. i. Only tell a man you 
think him good-looking, and he falls in 




love with you directly ; or if that is too 
great a BOUNCE and indeed very few of 
them have the slightest pretensions to 
beauty you need only hint that he rides 

1880. Blackicood's Mag., May, p. 670. 
The whole heroic adventure was the 
veriest BOUNCE, the merest bunkum ! 

2. Impudence; cheek; BRASS 

1872-4. JOHN FORSTER, Life of 
Dickens, ch. Ix. It is the face of the 
Webster type, but without the BOUNCE 
of Webster's face. 

3. A boaster ; swaggerer ; 
showy swindler; bully. Cf., 

1812. J. H. VAUX, Flash Diet. 
BOUNCE, a person well or fashionably 
drest is said to be a RANK BOUNCE. 

Verb. i. To boast; bluster ; 
hector ; bully; blow up. 

1633. FLETCHER, Nt. Walkers, IV., 
i. I doe so whirle her to the Counsellors' 
chambers . . . and BOUNCE her for more 

1698. WARD, London Spy, pt. XVIII., 
p. 428. With lies he tells his Bloody 
Feats, And BOUNCES like a Bully. 

1748. T. DYCHE, Dictionary (5 ed.). 
BOUNCE (v.), to swagger, boast, crack, 
stump, or pretend to great matters. 

1749. WALPOLE, Lett, to Mann, 3 
May (1833), vol. II., p. 374. The Lords 
had four tickets a-piece, and each Com- 
moner at first but two, till the Speaker 
BOUNCED and obtained a third. 

1760. COLMAN, Polly Honcycombe, in 
wks. (1777) IV., 55. Nay, nay, old gentle- 
man, no BOUNCING; you're mistaken in 
your man, sir ! 

1859. H. KINGSLEY, Geoffrey Plamlyn, 
ch. v. ' He'll be drinking at all the places 
coining along to get his courage up to 
BOUNCE me.' 

1883. Daily News, July 26, p. 4, 
col. 8. To BOUNCE is simply to prevail 
on persons whose mirth interferes with 
the general enjoyment to withdraw from 
society which they embarrass rather 
than adorn. 

2. To lie; to cheat; to 

1762. FOOTE, Liar, II., , i. If it ha